A remarkable project

Source: RTM Aug/Sep 17

Businesses from across the UK of all types and sizes will help make HS2 an exemplary project, writes Will Roberts, communications director UK & Ireland at Alstom and director at High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL).

It’s all systems go for HS2 – Britain’s brand new high-speed railway line, with construction now underway. Royal Assent was granted at the beginning of the year and phase 2 of the route has been outlined by ministers, which will take the high-speed line to the north of England. 

Across the political spectrum, there is unprecedented consensus for the project – a remarkable feat in today’s splintered political world. In June’s General Election, 627 of 650 new MPs were elected on manifestos supporting HS2. As momentum continues to build, we must make the most of the remarkable opportunities high-speed rail offers the supply chain, right across the UK. 

The government’s investment in HS2 is the most significant large-scale infrastructure project in the UK for decades. Economically it will help rejuvenate towns and cities, interlinking businesses and markets across the supply chain and helping to rebalance the economy of our country. Socially it will create jobs across Britain, fostering innovation and skills amongst our current and future workforce while reaffirming our leading position in delivering cutting-edge infrastructure projects on the world stage. 

With this investment comes a big responsibility for the industry. Members of HSRIL have experience across the rail, engineering and construction sectors, and our purpose as a group is to co-ordinate and share the expertise and experience we all have. We have a responsibility to deliver this project for Britain on time, on budget and to world-class standards. That way, we can show the rest of the world what British industry is capable of and that we are ready to help export knowledge and skills to benefit the UK supply chain. Indeed, the efforts by the whole supply chain are impressive. As an industry, we are ready, willing and able to deliver.  

Because of the complexity and breadth of HS2, the project needs a full range of works, goods and services, covering many sectors, over the total programme’s 20-year lifespan. This provides a huge opportunity for companies right across the UK which will take part in this innovative project, skilling up a future generation of engineers and supporting regional economies. 

Enabling works have already commenced on the line of route. Ground works and archaeological investigations are underway, and vegetation clearance has begun to allow main works to start soon. If you visit the Curzon Street site in Birmingham you can see the very early signs of where one of Britain’s next great railway stations will arise. Next year, construction work is due to begin on new stations, tunnels, embankments and viaducts on the London to Birmingham line, which forms the first phase of the HS2 project. The civil engineering aspect alone is expected to create 16,000 new jobs. 

HS2 Ltd has worked with hundreds of businesses to help them shape their approach to procurement, ensuring that the process is as straightforward as possible to reduce barriers for SMEs. Contractors of all sizes will deliver the project and are busy bidding for contracts, mobilising teams and upskilling their workforce. Behind the scenes, thousands of people are already working on HS2, getting ready to deliver. 

The scale and duration of the programme means that there is a significant opportunity to create deep, long-lasting changes in skills, jobs and diversity. HS2 is working with suppliers to create life-changing opportunities for local and under-represented people and businesses. High expectations will rightly be set during procurement and within contracts for inclusivity in the workforce, skills and employment – and progress will be monitored throughout the delivery lifecycle. 

Whilst HS2 Ltd will directly procure and manage a relatively small number of high-value major works contracts, this will lead to a huge number of sub-contracts through the supply chain, engaging a much larger and more diverse range of companies. Through contributing their innovation, experience and capabilities, businesses from across the UK of all types and sizes will help make HS2 an exemplary project – one which maximises the value of the project to local and national economies, and allows the UK to compete internationally in state-of-the-art engineering. 

It is a remarkable project, futureproofing our skills base, business enterprise and connectivity – and best of all, it is underway now. The industry is delivering, and must continue to maximise this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it presents.




Stratfan   26/09/2017 at 08:17

It certainly is remarkable! Remarkable that this flawed waste of our money is still going ahead when we have so many far greater priorities

GB   13/10/2017 at 21:02

In a small island like ours, the time saving to Birmingham, etc., is not worth the huge expense to provide it! By all means increase capacity but by lengthening the 4 and 5-car Voyagers and other trains on the WCML and re-opening some complementary routes North which should never have been closed. Other minor gaps in the system should also be reconnected. Then spend the money saved on the NHS, the Police, Education, the Fire Service and other social services which are in dire need NOW. In an age of austerity, pouring money into a controversial project which will produce no return for many years is surely bad financial management.

Peter   20/10/2017 at 12:39

"writes Will Roberts, communications director UK & Ireland at Alstom and director at High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL)." Well, he would say that wouldn't he !

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