Delivering major rail projects has been a passport to the world for David Radcliffe.
From coast to coast across Australia, to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and right throughout Asia – he’s spent the better part of the past two decades co-ordinating simultaneous, multi-billion-dollar projects and thousands of global staff.
It’s the kind of lifestyle that could not have been sustained without the patience and understanding of his wife of 36 years, Wendy.
“At one level she is relatively used to it, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily like it.”
“We don’t have kids and as I’ve said to people over the years, I don’t think I could have done it with kids,” he said.
An electrical engineer by trade, David Radcliffe began his career building power stations, but six years in, an opportunity to work on power and overhead design on a rail project took his career in a different direction.
The veteran of rail construction chuckles as he muses that he fell into the industry “by pure chance – but I’ve stayed ever since.”
When the Victorian Government announced in 2018 it would seek to start the biggest ever Rail Project in the state’s history, Suburban Rail Loop - David Radcliffe got the first call.
“This was right at the ground floor and I was staff member number one of Suburban Rail Loop, so when I arrived it was just me.”
“What was attractive about that was the ability I had to influence the outcome, and the ability to help set the project up for successful delivery,” he said.
Fresh from delivering the Sydney Metro North West project on time and a billion dollars under budget as Project Director, Mr Radcliffe was looking for the next challenge.
“SRL is one of those projects in the world that is a mega-project, there aren’t too many projects of this size and complexity globally, and it’s a great follow on from delivering the largest piece of rail infrastructure in Australia, in the Sydney Metro North West.”
“When I joined the Sydney project it had some significant issues, but we managed to work through them and solve those problems in a way that ultimately delivered the project on time and under budget – so I’m pretty proud of that achievement. And certainly, I want to bring the lessons learned in how we did that to SRL.”
On cost and on scale, there’s nothing bigger than Suburban Rail Loop.
A 90-kilometre rail line that will orbit Melbourne’s middle suburbs, creating up to 15 new stations, connections to existing metro and regional lines, and links to the new Melbourne Airport Rail.
Early works on Stage One, the 27-kilometre tunnel between Cheltenham and Box Hill, are set to get underway in 2022.
The loop will transform how people move around Melbourne, relieve congestion and will drive economic growth and urban renewal around the stations.
As David Radcliffe hastens to add – it’s more than just a rail project.
“It’s a game changer for Melbourne really, the fact that you move people is a by-product, because what it does for the whole community is quite different - it facilitates their way of life.”
He hopes his contribution will be how Suburban Rail Loop is set up for timely completion.
“The projects are getting bigger by their nature and this one has got a $50 billion publicly announced number – it’s right up there in terms of one of the biggest projects in the world,” he said.
“While that $50 billion is just a number – what it indicates is the complexity and the amount of work that you’ve got to do to manage effectively and deliver on time – that’s not to be underestimated.”
As Strategic Adviser, David Radcliffe provides guidance based on his many years of experience and is considered a mentor among his peers.