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Award of £8.6bn civil contracts for HS2 pushed back to June

A total of £8.6bn worth of civil contracts for the first phase of HS2, which were due to be awarded next month, have been pushed back to June, RTM has been told.

Bidders have been informed that the procurement process has been delayed, and HS2 is now requesting further information from the competing companies ahead of its final decision on the seven packages of work. However, the company is confident it still remains on schedule.

The list of nine companies shortlisted for the civil engineering contracts were invited to tender for seven packages on phase one worth up to £8.6bn in June last year.

An HS2 spokesperson said: “HS2 remains on schedule with the Main Works contracts due to be awarded in the summer. Our Enabling Works contractors are already on board and preparing for the first activities on the ground over the next few months. These vital early works are designed to clear the way for the start of the Main Works and reduce the risk of delay later in the programme.

“Our Main Works contractors will go on to deliver the bulk of the construction work on the project and we are currently undertaking a rigorous evaluation and selection process to ensure that we get the right companies in place. Together we will start to deliver a transformation in rail travel in the UK and we look forward to welcoming them to the team.”

Amongst the firms bidding, many in the form of joint ventures, were some of the biggest names in the national and international rail sector, including Balfour Beatty Vinci BeMO, Catalyst: Bechtel Ltd and Fusion: Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastrucutre Ltd.

The full shortlist is as follows:

  • Align JV: BouyguesTravaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, Volkerfitzpatrick
  • ASL: Acciona Infraestructuras, John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Ltd, Lagan Construction Group Ltd
  • Balfour Beatty Vinci BeMO (BBV JV): Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Vinci Construction UK Ltd, Vinci Construction Terrassement SAS, BeMO Tunnelling GmbH
  • Catalyst: Bechtel Ltd
  • Carillion-Eiffage-Kier (CEK) JV: Carillion Construction Ltd, Eiffage Genie Civil S.A. (previously Eiffage TP), Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd
  • Fusion: Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Ltd (previously Morgan Sindall plc), BAM Nuttall Ltd, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Ltd
  • LFM: Laing O’Rourke Construction Ltd, FCC Construccion S.A., J. Murphy and Sons Ltd
  • Momentum Infrastructure: Dragados S.A., HOCHTIEF Infrastructure GmbH, GallifordTry Infrastructure Ltd
  • SCS: Skanska Construction (UK) Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG

The phase one contracts cover a series of areas, including the Chiltern Tunnels and Colne Valley Viaduct as well as the route from Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel to Delta Junction.

HS2 told the firms that by being able to “deliver the best results in terms of value and efficiency” the successful bidders would then be able to bid on phase 2a works, worth between £1.8bn and £3.3bn to cover the second leg of the project – between Birmingham and Crewe.

Last month, HS2 received royal assent, effectively giving the “green light” for work to begin on the high-speed line.

The latest news, however, follows other issues with the bidding process for contracts on HS2, including last month, when RTM reported that confirmation of the awarding of the 2b development partner to CH2M had been delayed whilst HS2 held talks with under-bidder Mace about the decision.

In January, the government started looking for a company to design, build and maintain 60 of HS2’s state-of-the-art trains for the first phase of the high-speed rail network, with the £2.75bn contract due to be awarded in 2019.

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Andrew Gwilt   24/03/2017 at 12:35

Will the HS2 rail link still get the go ahead? Even though it has been pushed back to June.

Mark Hare   24/03/2017 at 13:12

@Andrew, HS2 has already got the 'go ahead', being given Royal Assent last month, as mentioned in the article. This delay is in the awarding of civil contracts for the first phase of the scheme, again, as clearly detailed in the article.

Rupe   24/03/2017 at 13:51

Hopefully HS2 in open country will have sufficient land to support future 4-tracking. This will then allow the rail corridor to also be used by slower classic trains without holding up high speed services. Always assuming the government doesn't pause HS2 indefinitely due to Brexit!

John Grant   24/03/2017 at 14:24

I suggested to someone from HS2 a while ago that four-tracking and building intermediate stations would help to reduce the opposition from communities it passes through, but he said it would double the cost (no, I don't understand that either).

Mark Hare   24/03/2017 at 14:41

@John Grant the clue is in the name 'HS2'. It's a High Speed line, not a line to serve local communities. If the NIMBYs can't see the bigger picture or understand the benefit of HS2 to the UK as a whole then that's their lookout. Building intermediate stations and running stopping trains defeats the whole object of building the line in the first place.

Andrew Gwilt   24/03/2017 at 14:51

Thanks. Mark Hare.

Peter Jarvis   24/03/2017 at 15:10

There seems to be a new station being built at Caernarfon - is this the far end of HS2 under way?

Chris M   24/03/2017 at 15:51

Rupe, the HS2 line is being deliberately built to avoid passing through significant built-up areas - so why on earth would you want to build HS2 slow lines to serve empty spaces? The freed up capacity on the existing lines will benefit people who make local and short-distance rail journeys. Rather than four tracking, the next HS line from London is likely to run directly north to Leicestershire and join with the HS2 eastern branch. That may happen in the 2040s, but let's build HS2 first eh?

Peter   24/03/2017 at 19:58

Re: 4-tracking: not going to happen I'm afraid. HS2 did make a play for this a couple years back by trying to allow for extra land, but didn't happen in the end. So, not enough land allowed for 4 tracking.

Mark Berry   25/03/2017 at 21:13

Which way will HS2 go when it hits the M6 because of the salt mines and the problem of land slip

Simhedges   25/03/2017 at 21:58

Will the line be capable of accommodating double decker trains?

Chris M   26/03/2017 at 04:30

All the new track will - so in 2033 you could have double deck stock from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. Not saying it will use them at first, they may not be needed for many years. HS2 gives a huge number of extra seats with normal stock.

Roger Landells   26/03/2017 at 12:42

Peter the safeguarded area north of Calvert is 120 meters surely four track friendly?

Rupe   26/03/2017 at 12:46

Now Heathrow's recommended for expansion, perhaps it'd be best NOT to build a station at Old Oak Common, but run HS2 trains straight through to/from Euston - saving both the cost of building a station & the journey time in serving it. Instead, build a short spur by the M25 linking HS2 to the Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH). Then have some trains run on HS2 to the M25, then on the linking spur & WRLtH to Heathrow (T5/6 & T1/2/3), and then non-stop to Ealing Broadway & Paddington (much like Heathrow Connect). If possible, perhaps even use Crossrail compatible trains that can continue along Crossrail, stopping at central & southern branch stations to Abbey Wood, terminating at Ebbsfleet (HS1) or beyond. I think doing this would put Heathrow on HS2 cost-effectively & with a viable traffic flow, reduce overcrowding at Euston, give quicker HS2-related journeys to/from much of London & reduce the number of train changes needed for some, reduce the cost of HS2 by not building Old Oak Common (but needs a short link spur by the M25 instead), and potentially create a Thameslink-style service between Kent & the Midlands via London & Heathrow. However, to attract sufficient traffic away from Euston, it would need to be able to run sufficiently quickly & frequently from Heathrow to Paddington (but possibly could return more slowly). And Ealing Broadway & Paddington might need to handle some extra passengers changing trains.

John Gilbert   27/03/2017 at 00:43

Oh dear, oh dear!! Here we go again!! Delays to yet another British railway project! They now appear here as well as in so many other places, notably the tragi-comedy that is the Great Western Electrification Scheme. Why on earth do they announce these dates when they are so unlikely to be achieve?.

Chris M   27/03/2017 at 04:09

Rupe, it isn't worth stopping any HS2 trains at Heathrow - the door to that idea shut several years ago. HS2 is a domestic inter-city railway, not an airport shuttle. Plus the station at OOC is vital for Crossrail connectivity. What will be built for phase 1 is exactly what Parliament authorised on February 23rd and nothing more. Why do people not realise that?

Graham Nalty   28/03/2017 at 16:37

People travelling in Europe now expect that their airport is connected to and integrated in their national rail network. It is not the numbers of people that travel to Heathrow that matters but the value of export orders won from overseas by UK business. If Heathrow was used as a HS2 interchange instead of OOC, there would be many more people using it. Just thinks of the sheer numbers of people who could access Heathrow from Surrey who would have much better connectivity to the Midlands and North. Unless Wormwoods Scrubbs was converted into a Premier Inn, there is not going to be any travel demand to OOC itself. There is so much wrong with the poor design of the HS2 route that it will not offer much relief to the current main lines. London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds may enjoy the country's largest individual traffic flows between them, but this is less than 1% of all rail travel.

Chris M   29/03/2017 at 03:10

The route & design of HS2 is right, passengers linking to air travel would only ever account for 3-4% of total HS2 numbers, while sending HS2 in a dogleg via Heathrow would inconvenience the other 96% by giving them a much slower journey. It would have also added £billions to the cost of building the railway as it would have all been in bored tunnels of even greater length. The idea of running HS2 trains to Heathrow was looked at and then rejected (quite rightly) several years ago. The business case was rubbish. HS2 will never go to Heathrow - get used to that fact. What WILL be built is what was in the phase 1 legislation passed by Parliament five weeks ago. Every crackpot idea under the sun (and some good ones) were looked at by the select committees. There is no point now going on and on about what could have been.

Rupe   29/03/2017 at 09:49

Thx all! Fyi... Found has a good set of 4 articles on HS2 design written last summer - more conceptual than Wikipedia, more digestible & up-to-date than papers. Interesting comparison with HS1, its evolution, and what did & didn't get built. With an HS2 design life of up to a century or more, a danger is the lack of future adaptability due to prior penny-pinching or inadequate joined-up forethought. Construction-era tax payers & launch-era passengers won't welcome consequent expensive, disruptive & avoidable rework or restrictions in their working lifetime (now c50 yrs). Hopefully this contract delay isn't an early symptom of these, or budget woes & political will either.

Melvyn   29/03/2017 at 22:45

These delays won't make any difference to the building of HS2 given that just like with Crossrail the first year or two will be dominated by building demolition and relocation of utilities along the route and where stations and other structures are planned. As for Heathrow well we are already outside the Schengan Area of the EU and thus not a destination for international visitors with Schengan Area passes and outside the EU in the future many of the transfers made at Heathrow may move to mainland Europe. And in any case these transfers are made with Heathrow Airport and thus passengers never leave the airport. As for OOC that is designed as a major interchange taking in Crossrail, HS2 , GWR , London Overground and maybe even the Underground depending how plans develop. As for Heathrow links plans for the Western Access Scheme could bring services from the GWR to Heathrow. The Government has also announced that it will fund the first tranche of trains which will be Classic Compatible and thus able to run on the existing network as well as HS2 .

Mark Hare   30/03/2017 at 11:16

@Graham Nalty - what's wrong, in your opinion, with the design of the HS2 route? Its purpose is to increase capacity along the North-South corridor and it will do exactly that. The WCML is full, despite being the subject of a £9bn upgrade. HS2 is not being built to relieve congestion on every main line in the land, as you seem to believe.

Chris M   04/04/2017 at 02:07

Mark, quite often you hear anti comments about the HS2 route as 'wrong', but when challenged to suggest something better the claimants always go quiet! The 'Y' route has survived years of detailed scrutiny by both Houses of Parliament and has been endorsed by a spectacular majority of MPs. All other route options were looked at and cast aside. Truth is there is no 'better' option out there, for the money available the 'Y' route is by far the best way to serve the maximum number of UK cities effectively with high speed and high capacity rail.

Nick B   15/04/2017 at 09:07

Is anyone aware if any studies that factor in to HS2 operational and commercial plans the adoption of AVs/driverless vehicles? These will potentially offer door to door services that are much more convenient than HS2, requiring a fraction of car parking (leading to major loss of revenues)?

Scott Bentman   30/06/2017 at 12:42

Is there any news on the Euston Station Redevelpment? Do we know which "Lot " contains this work? tia

Chrism   01/09/2017 at 03:30

Worth adding for posterity that the £8.6 billion mentioned in this article turned out to be a wild overestimate. The seven contracts to design and build the phase 1 route actually received tenders worth £6.6 billion, And all of a sudden the serial moaners who had been predicting ridiculous HS2 cost figures slid off to hide under their respective rocks. Not one of them to date has been man (or woman) enough to stick their heads above the parapet and admit they were talking utter nonsense. :-)

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