Europe’s largest construction project, Crossrail, will increase London’s rail-based transport capacity by 10% and will pass through 37 stations. The project, which is scheduled for completion in 2018, is also setting an example for the use of BIM (building information modeling) in infrastructure construction projects.

On Friday, Crossrail, www.crossrail.co.uk, Canary Wharf, London, in partnership with Bentley Systems, www.bentley.com, Exton, Pa., announced two new initiatives for the construction phase of the project. First, the project will aim to integrate the whole supply chain using BIM. Second, the team is replacing ‘adversarial cultures with collaborative ones,’ keeping in line with a new government construction strategy in the U.K.

This strategy reforms the way in which the government will procure construction, reducing costs by up to 20%. With regards to technology, the government will drive the use of BIM through the development of standards. In particular, the government will require the use of BIM by 2016, which includes making all project documentation electronic.

With Crossrail being the scale and complexity that it is, Andrew Wolstenholme, chief executive, Crossrail, sees this project as a way to move the whole construction industry forward in a number of areas including the use of BIM and associated technologies.

He says “Many of our project contractors are already developing their own capabilities in (BIM). BIM is not simply about the application of new software—it’s about a different way of working. If we are to take advantage of the opportunity BIM offers the program, and our contractor organizations, we need to collaborate closely with our supply chain to make it happen.”

In order to do this, Crossrail is using ProjectWise to connect data among the various project participants. Crossrail is also working with the technology provider to create a BIM Academy to provide advice on technology deployments.

The use of BIM on large infrastructure construction projects, such as rail, is not quite as common as the use of the technology on large building projects such as hospitals. However, as government mandates BIM and the use of software on large projects such as Crossrail become more evident in the construction industry, BIM in infrastructure could grow significantly.