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HS2 on the look out for ground investigation contractors

HS2 ltd announced this week that it is on the hunt for a team of specialist ground investigation contractors, in the hopes of extending Britain’s new high-speed railway from the Midlands to the North.

The single framework contract is worth around £300m and will include the appointment of a lead ‘Ground Investigation Partner’, supported by up to 10 specialist ground investigation contractors to deliver the complex programme of work.

The government has asked HS2 ltd to proceed and prioritise legislation for the Western leg of Phase 2b, from Crewe to Manchester, as part of their plan to ‘build back better’ and deliver economic benefits, whilst improving and quickening transport links to the North.

Due to the flexible approach of the programme, it has provided the company the freedom to call on as much technical expertise as needed. But this will depend on design needs and the outcome of the government’s Integrated Rail plan, which should be published later on in the year.

HS2’s Procurement and Supply Chain Director, Andrew Cubitt, said: “This framework agreement is an important step in our plans to bring HS2 to the North. It will enable us to procure a comprehensive body of ground investigation data to inform our future civil engineering works.”

“The structure of the framework agreement means that more than ten contractors could benefit from the opportunities we are creating, which comes at a vital time for UK businesses seeking stability and growth as we strive to recover from the effects of the pandemic.”

The flexible framework also offers contractors to be pulled in to deliver ground investigation work, in order to support the delivery of the government’s Integrated Rail Plan.

With regards to civil engineering, the biggest technical and financial risks are determined by the ground and the potential unexpected conditions, which typically are the primary causes of significant costs and programmed overrun. The Phase 2b ground investigations programme has been put in place to reduce this risk as much as possible.

The programme allows for more than 15,000 exploratory holes and will permit a model of the ground beneath the whole route to be developed. This geotechnical data plays a crucial role in the design and construction, and allows ground hazards to be addressed and managed properly.

The procurement is for an initial 8-year framework with the option for extending it for another 2 years. It is split into two lots:

  • The Ground Investigation Partner – worth up to £85m – will be responsible for managing and co-ordinating the packaging of GI works as well as the planning and the implementation of GI site enabling works.
  • The GI Contractor – worth up to £215m – will be responsible for the acquisition and formal reporting of the geopolitical, hydrogeological and geo-environmental data through surveys, the excavation and detailed logging of exploratory holes, and high-quality in-situ and laboratory testing.

Bidders will be shortlisted nearer to the end of the year, with the contract award expected in 2022, and the launch of the contract opportunity this week does not commit HS2 to any spending for now.

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