Comment

07.04.16

High speed rail: Grasping the opportunity

Source: RTM Apr/May 16

Following the third reading of the HS2 Bill in Parliament, High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) has launched its latest report – High Speed Rail: Grasping the Opportunity – which looks at how the HS2 project can benefit local economies and create opportunities across the supply chain. Philip Hoare, head of rail at Atkins and a director at HSRIL, explains more.

Representing companies with relevant experience and an interest in high-speed rail in Britain, HSRIL co-ordinates and shares the expertise and experience within the industry – with the aim of ensuring that Britain’s national high-speed rail network is delivered efficiently and successfully to world-class standards. 

‘Grasping the Opportunity’ summarises the findings of a series of focus groups that took place across the country, with SMEs in Manchester, Derby, Ashford and Northampton, and discusses the opportunities businesses associate with the project as well identifying the challenges. HSRIL recognises that its members have a particular responsibility in terms of making sure SMEs benefit from the construction of HS2, and discussions at the sessions identified the following areas where HSRIL members can offer support to SMEs: 

Ensuring businesses have the right skills and resources 

Across the railway, the challenge of recruitment and retention is widely viewed as a top industry-wide priority. In recent months the Transport Industry Skills Strategy (TISS) and the Rail Supply Group  Sector Strategy have both sought to address this, and high-speed rail is identified as a primary opportunity to lead in the upskilling of the industry as a whole. 

There is broad agreement that there is an urgent need to diversify the sorts of people attracted into the industry, so that we are tapping into the widest possible talent pool. This means engaging with a far greater number of women and people from underrepresented backgrounds, as well as people qualified in technology as much as those qualified in engineering. HSRIL has organised a national conference in Birmingham on Monday 11 July 2016 to discuss the issue and finalise a clear industry-wide response to this challenge. 

Making procurement work for SMEs 

HSRIL members fully recognise their own responsibility for making procurement processes as streamlined as possible to help SMEs bid for contracts on the HS2 project. The vast majority of SMEs working on HS2 will be sub-contractors to Tier 1 suppliers, rather than directly to HS2 Ltd themselves, and this gives HSRIL a particularly important role to play. 

HSRIL believes that improving procurement is primarily about two things – communication and process. In terms of communications, it is fundamental to maintain the dialogue with smaller suppliers so they can provide a “running commentary” of how they feel the processes are going. Moving forwards, HSRIL members commit to reviewing procurement and pre-qualification processes to seek to achieve a higher degree of consistency and commonality between its members, making it easier for SMEs to bid for multiple contracts. 

Preparation and building confidence 

Cutting across all of the discussions was a broader awareness of the need for everyone to be fully prepared in order to take advantage of the opportunities that the HS2 project will present. It is in the interests of Tier 1 suppliers that SMEs are as ready as possible to bid for contracts as and when they arise. These observations highlighted the diverse perspectives different companies have in the industry, and in particular the important role Tier 1 suppliers have to play in reassuring smaller suppliers about the status and progress of major projects, and alerting them well in advance of significant contract opportunities. 

HSRIL members will continue with a programme of SME engagement events throughout 2016, in supplement to the events HS2 Ltd themselves organise, to further build confidence and breed understanding in the supply chain about the opportunities that the HS2 project, and indeed others, have to offer. 

What comes next? 

Recognition that the design and construction of the HS2 project offers transformative opportunities for businesses large and small is widespread. ‘Grasping the Opportunity’ sets out a summary of the opportunities and challenges SMEs perceive in respect of the HS2 project, and how HSRIL members are prepared to respond to them. 

This includes the continuation of a sustained programme of SME engagement, a commitment to review procurement processes and the organisation of a national conference in Birmingham this summer to finalise a clear industry-wide response to this substantial issue. By helping SMEs to maximise the opportunities that HS2 brings, HSRIL members recognise that this will in turn help to create new jobs, allow investment in skills and nurture economic growth for the UK more widely.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

View all News

rail industry focus

Better connected with a universal information system

08/05/2019Better connected with a universal information system

Maddy Grant, marketing and content specialist... more >
It's the little things in rail

29/03/2019It's the little things in rail

Dan Lee-Bursnall, commercial director at Incr... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Year with brand-new infrastructrure to... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the TOC, gives RTM an update on the innovative scheme. Recognising that young people are more likely to take a risk trespassing on railway tracks, C... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

05/06/2019Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

In a series of Q&A’s with key speakers on the run up to TransCityRail Midlands, we caught up with TransCityRail panellist and Amey’s commercial account director, Anna Delvecchio, for her insight into what the Rail Sector Deal means for the rail industry and its supply chain. Anna started her career as an apprentice at the age o... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

interviews

Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >
Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >
TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... more >
Exclusive: Midlands Connect and WMRE talk collaboration and investment in the Midlands' railway

22/01/2019Exclusive: Midlands Connect and WMRE talk collaboration and investment in the Midlands' railway

In the jigsaw puzzle of regional transport decision-making, there must be collaboration and compromise. Midlands Connect media lead James Bovill ... more >