HS2 begins search for firms to work on £1.9bn worth of contracts on rail network

HS2 has opened up the bidding for a further £2bn worth of contracts for the high-speed rail project that will link London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.

The rail operator is looking for bidders on £1.55bn worth of contracts that involves track and overhead catenary system works on phases 1 and 2a of the project. Aspects of the contract include the key overhead power system from which the high-speed trains will draw down power, as well as the 180 miles of track along which they will travel at speeds of up to 225mph. It will also include construction work within stations and in tunnels.

A £330m contract is also on offer for the tunnel and lineside mechanical and electrical and tunnel ventilation works, spanning design, installation and testing of HS2 safety equipment. Nine tunnels are planned for Phase 1.

Requests to participate in the two tenders should be submitted by 21 March. HS2 aims to shortlist four bidders for each of the packages, which should be let before the end of next year.

Mark Thurston, HS2 chief executive, said: “We’re looking for the smartest, most cost-effective solutions that the industry has to offer through these contracts, which form part of the overall railway system for HS2. These two essential contracts are fundamental to HS2 operating safely, reliably and efficiently for the millions of people who will use and come to depend on it.”

Concerns surrounding the delivery of the high-speed rail network have recently grown following the demise of Carillion, which was handed contracts by the government last year despite issuing profit warnings.  But earlier this month, the transport secretary Chris Grayling revealed he expected there to be no further delays in HS2 with two other firms involved in the contract, Eiffage and Kier, expected to pick up the work. Grayling has confirmed that Kier and Eiffage would now take on any extra workload and insisted the project was always going to be delivered as part of a consortium and never relied wholly on Carillion.

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