Latest Rail News

26.06.18

Stations, civils, trains and NPR links: HS2 lays out key milestones for year ahead

HS2 Ltd has set out key milestones for this financial year, including defined goals around rolling stock procurement, the Phase 1 business case and Phase 2b designs, station and retail provision, environmental planning, franchise mobilisation, and plans to link up the high-speed network with Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and the Midlands Engine.

In its Corporate Plan 2018-21, the company reported significant improvements in the way the organisation is run, and took the opportunity to define clear timescales for implementation in the coming months and years.

It confirmed that it will invite a shortlist of suppliers to bid to design and build Phase 1 rolling stock this year, which is expected to comprise “some of the world’s most advanced trains.” Meanwhile, it will support the government to complete the full business case for the first phase by February 2019, including by developing the baseline for whole-life costs and benefits.

HS2 will also continue to seek the necessary Parliamentary permissions to build Phase 2. By summer, it expects to complete the initial preliminary designs for Phase 2b.

Parallel to this, it is working with the DfT, Transport for the North, the Constellation Partnership and Midlands Connect to develop “concepts to meet the aspirations” of NPR and the Midlands Engine. “The secretary of state has already announced work on the passive provision of junctions to allow the interaction of new infrastructure and HS2,” the document said. “As the details of these networks become clearer we will, as required, adjust our designs and our plans to incorporate these and maximise the benefits that HS2 can deliver.”

Civils, stations and technology

In terms of civils and property, HS2 expects that by the start of 2018-19, its portfolio will have grown to include the management of over 720 properties. It has already let more than 500 of the properties it purchased, with tenants in over 80% of them.

The contractors chosen last year to deliver Main Works Civils will complete their scheme design and associated planning approvals by the end of the year, thus allowing HS2 to give them the go-ahead to start detailed design and construction works.

When it comes to stations, HS2 plans to have identified and quantified commercial development activities for its Phase 1 stations and depots by the end of this year. It will also have completed a station commercialisation strategy to determine the provision of retail, leisure and business space within the new stations serving the high-speed line.

Technology-wise, by October this year the company will deploy a new cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning system to ensure effective financial, procurement and people management, which seeks to champion the deployment of a ‘cloud first’ IT strategy. This will focus on “secure and effective collaboration” within the organisation and with external clients and the supply chain.

Cloud-based data platforms will then allow the construction of an HS2 ‘digital twin,’ which will be used to drive the design, build and operation of the railway.

Throughout this financial year, HS2 will continue to help the DfT with procuring a West Coast franchise partner to launch the first-ever services on the line. It will put in place the process needed to support the mobilisation of this contract and ensure it is embedded into the HS2 programme by the end of 2019.

Environmentalism and corporate social responsibility

From September this year, the company will consult on a draft environmental statement for the Phase 2b route which will propose how to avoid, reduce or manage environmental impacts – spanning everything from air quality to wildlife protection. It has also laid out plans this week to create a ‘green corridor’ that links natural habitats and local amenities.

Lastly, in 2018-19 the young company will be developing its approach to Corporate Social Responsibility. It is currently building a programme that helps promote STEM skills and enables its staff to get involved in meaningful projects through volunteering schemes.

“We are committed to making sure that HS2 is a project that works for everyone in society. Our Responsible Business programme will therefore have a particular focus on schemes aimed at groups that can be disadvantaged in society, such as homeless people and children in care,” the document said.

Top image c. Grimshaw Architects

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