Crossrail: Welsh firms told to chase contracts
Welsh companies are being told to seize the business opportunities from Europe's largest construction scheme - a rail line being built in England.
The £14.8bn Crossrail scheme will be finished in 2018 and links Berkshire to Essex via Heathrow and central London.
The project is almost twice as big as London 2012 which a Lords report found had little economic benefit for Wales.
Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan is in Cardiff on Tuesday to discuss how firms can win contracts.
The company estimates it will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full-time jobs.
The first stretch of tunnel was completed last week.
Terry Morgan, originally from Cwmbran in Torfaen, said: "Crossrail is not just benefiting London and the south east, it is creating jobs and business opportunities right around the UK as firms from Falmouth to Fife pick up work on the project.
"A number of companies from Wales have already won work, but as we enter peak construction it's vital that firms from this part of the world continue to seize the opportunities that will be on offer."
One of the companiesalready working with Crossrail is Celsa UK in Cardiff.
It has provided more than 50,000 tonnes of steel that have been used to reinforce concrete at the rail project's sites.
Luis Sanz Villares, general manager at Celsa Manufacturing UK, said: "Having had our steel used in many major constructions over the last years (including the Olympics and Heathrow Terminal 5) we are contributing to a network that will be a permanent feature in the transport of millions of people for many years to come."
Three out of five businesses currently winning work on the project are based outside London and more than half are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Economy minister Edwina Hart said: "The Crossrail project is a great opportunity for Welsh companies to benefit from the contracts available in this major infrastructure project.
"Businesses can find out more about the project and contracts available at this event in Cardiff and I urge them to make the most of these potential supply chain opportunities."
There has been criticism that Welsh companies missed out on much of the business awarded in the construction of the infrastructure for the 2012 Olympics in London, despite early promises the whole of the UK would benefit.
Earlier this month, a House of Lords report found the economic benefits from London 2012 were "disproportionally weighted" towards southern England.
It said fewer than 500 jobs were created in Wales, out of 30,000.