HS2 gets green light for next major phase of design and construction works

Industry leaders welcome green light for next major phase of HS2, describing a huge boost for the construction industry and recovery of the economy post-coronavirus.

Industry leaders have warmly welcomed the green light given to the next major phase of HS2, describing it as a huge boost for both the construction industry and the wider supply chain, and the recovery of the economy post-coronavirus.

The department for transport (DfT) has given approval for HS2 Ltd to issue Notice to Proceed (NtP) to the four Main Works Civils Contractors working on the project – SCS Railways, Align JV, EKFB JV, and BBV JV – to commence full detailed design and construction of Phase One of HS2 (the route from London – West Midlands).

To date, the contracts between HS2 Ltd and the Main Works Civils Contractors (MWCC) for Phase One have focused on undertaking scheme design and site preparation (including pricing and scoping) for the civils work. The issuing of NtP marks the point in the MWCC contracts where the work transitions from scheme design and preparatory work, to full detailed design and construction.

Preparatory works are due to start imminently with main construction to commence in earnest in the second quarter of 2021. All sites will be fully compliant with UK government guidance for safe working practices in relation to social distancing.

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “While the government’s top priority is rightly to combat the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives, we cannot delay work on our long-term plan to level up the country. HS2 will be the spine of the country’s transport network, boosting capacity and connectivity while also rebalancing opportunity fairly across our towns and cities.

“Following the decision earlier this year to proceed with the project, this next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it and means that work can truly begin on delivering this transformational project.”

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), said: “Given the uncertain times we live in, the scale and scope of the major project means that this decision by the government will bring clarity and relief to thousands of companies while allowing work to begin in earnest. We have not had much to celebrate recently as an industry, but the renewed support for HS2 is proof that construction projects will be vital to kickstarting the economy post-coronavirus.”

The four work packages are for full detailed design and construction of Phase One of the HS2 railway. Through these contracts, small and medium businesses have the guarantee of a pipeline of activity for the future, helping to protect jobs and boost certainty for them in the current climate.

The joint ventures, originally awarded contracts by HS2 Ltd in July 2017, are:

  • SCS Railways (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG);
  • Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics SAS, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, a subsidiary of VolkerWessels UK);
  • EKBF JV (Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman);
  • BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement).

Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said: “In these difficult times, today’s announcement represents both an immediate boost to the construction industry - and the many millions of UK jobs that the industry supports - and an important investment in Britain’s future: levelling up the country, improving our transport network and changing the way we travel to help bring down carbon emissions and improve air quality for the next generation.”

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group chief executive, said: “HS2 is a transformational infrastructure scheme, underpinning both the economic resilience and future growth of the nation, during these unprecedented and challenging times. Notice to Proceed provides certainty for many businesses up and down the UK, and will drive investment in skills and capability for current and future generations.”

Civil engineering contractors welcomed the news, and CECA director of external affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming, said: “The scheme will act as the backbone of our recovery and will not only deliver transformational improvements to capacity and connectivity across the UK, but will support many thousands of jobs. HS2 is vital to this country’s future and will act as a springboard for the infrastructure revolution the government has promised.

Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect, said: “Today’s confirmation that detailed design and construction of Phase One of HS2 will begin as soon as this summer offers certainty to the construction industry when it needs it the most. By integrating the network, we will encourage millions more people to make environmentally friendly travel choices, stimulate huge regeneration plans and create tens of thousands of new jobs.”

An estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will be created during Phase One of HS2, supporting thousands of jobs on site and many more around the country. It is estimated that around 95% of those contract opportunities will be won by UK based businesses and around two thirds of those will be small and medium sized businesses.

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