The Channel Tunnel is an undersea rail tunnel that links Folkestone in UK and Pas de Calais near Calais in France. The tunnel carries high-speed Eurostar trains. In 2012 the Eurotunnel transported more the 18 million passengers and the freight transported was more than 20 million tonnes.
The tunnel construction began in 1988 with an estimated budget of 2600 million pounds and estimated time of 5 years.
Finally, the construction ended in 1994 with a cost of 4600 million pounds. The project took 20% (6 years over 5 years) longer than planned with an over budget of 80% (4600 M vs 2.6 M).
We call scope creep in project management the phenomenon of uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in the project´s scope. This phenomenon is caused when the scope is not clearly defined.
Why did this project fall into the delays and changes?
Some mistakes that led the Eurotunnel project in this fail were:
Absence of historical records with similar projects.
- In the Eurotunnel project, the absence of similar precedents in the construction avoided providing the project with historical records. This absence of historical records led to some requirement gaps. To improve safety there was a need for an air conditioning system that was not included in the initial design.
Risk management: we need to identify all the potential risks in the project and define response plans to these risks.
- At the beginning of the drilling tasks in the Eurotunnel, the drill team found an unexpected hardness of the underground that let delays in the tunneling. Even though there were some underground extraction and analysis before starting the construction, there was and expected risk without a response plan.
Communications plans: Who send the reporting about the project? Who needs to receive information? What information must be sent? And how must be sent?
- In the Eurotunnel project, the communication between the British and French teams who were essentially tunneling from the two different sides and meeting in the middle could have been improved.
Procurement management: It´s necessary a procurement management plan to plan, execute, and control the procurements in the project.
- Procurement problems: In the Eurotunnel project there were many vendors bidding for the contract. This background led to the ‘winner’s curse’ of the successful bidders having the lowest and most optimistic price estimates, against the most realistic estimates. Finally, the bidder winner could not accomplish the forecast of time and cost.
What´s next?: Maybe an Agile interactive approach should be better.