Firms battle for £12 billion rail contracts as MPs overwhelmingly back HS2
Nine consortia are competing to build the London to Birmingham HS2 high speed rail route.
Major names in the civil engineering world are bidding for between £7.1 and £11.8 billion of work on the line, which is due to open in 2026, and on the first part of phase two from Birmingham to Crewe.
Contracts covering the 140 miles from London to Crewe are expected to be signed in 2017 with work on site starting a year later.
The following bidders have been shortlisted for at least one package each:
- Align Joint Venture (Bouygues, VolkerFitzpatrick, Sir Robert McAlpine)
- ASL (Acciona Infraestructuras, John Sisk & Son, Lagan)
- BBV (Balfour Beatty, VINCI BeMo)
- Catalyst (Bechtel)
- CEK (Carillion, Eiffage, Kier)
- Fusion (Morgan Sindall, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman)
- LFM (Laing O’Rourke, FCC Construccion, J. Murphy and Sons Limited)
- Momentum Infrastructure (Dragados, HOCHTIEF, GallifordTry)
- SCS (Skanska, Costain, STRABAG)
Firms that deliver the best results in terms of value and efficiency will be eligible to bid for work on the additional 40 miles between Birmingham and Crewe, due to open in 2027.
HS2 Ltd said work on the line would contribute to the creation of 14,600 jobs and apprenticeships across the UK, with the National College for High Speed Rail at Birmingham and Doncaster providing “high quality careers and giving young people the skills and experience needed to seize these opportunities”.
Confirmation of the shortlisted firms came as HS2 passed its final hurdle in the House of Commons.
MPs voted 399 to 44 to approve a Bill paving the way for the £56 billion railway.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
As we enter this new phase I make three pledges: we will work closely with those communities affected by the HS2 route, we will keep a firm grip on costs and we will drive maximum value for money from this new railway.
HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Simon Kirby said:
Today’s announcements are a major milestone for the project. Over the next ten years HS2 will help create tens of thousands of job opportunities, build specialist skills and expertise across the country and create at least 2,000 new apprenticeships.
Collaboration will be at the heart of everything we do. Together with our suppliers, we will create these opportunities while continuing to push for the best value and long term efficiency that will be essential to delivering this transformational project on time and on budget.
Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said:
HS2 is an exceptional opportunity for businesses, creating thousands of jobs during construction and helping to rebalance our economy long before trains start running in 2026.
This major moment in the procurement process takes us a step further to getting spades in the ground next year, so construction can begin on this vital railway.
A procurement process has also begun for nearly two million native trees for advance planting and up to five million more to be bought in the next ten years to blend the route into the surrounding landscape.
The contracts are expected to be signed in the autumn, providing time for trees to be grown and ready for planting throughout the construction period.
MPs gave the go-ahead for HS2 despite scathing criticism from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee which published a report highly critical of HS2 Ltd.
The report, which can be accessed here, says that what should have been consultation events were turned into public relations exercises, and the information that was made available to the public was either too generic to be of use or was inconsistent.
The process was treated as a one way ‘box-ticking’ exercise by HS2 Ltd, with no genuine two-way engagement.
Committee chair Bernard Jenkin said:
There is still a culture of defensive communication and misinformation within this public body and that is not acceptable. Unless those responsible for delivering HS2 understand that first and foremost they serve the public, they will continue to be criticised for having complete disregard for the people, some of them vulnerable, who are impacted by this large-scale infrastructure project.
Britain’s major councils, including Birmingham, issued a call to MPs to get behind high speed rail.
The Core Cities group of major councils said Britain “cannot go on relying on our Victorian network of routes alone”. The councils added:
High speed rail is the best way to achieve a more sustainable, rebalanced economic future for the nation as a whole and represents an opportunity to generate long term private sector growth and jobs across the whole of the UK, reshaping the national economy to do more, by helping businesses to thrive in and around our major urban centres. And if our cities perform better, then our nation will perform better.
Ultimately we want to see the UK having a high speed rail network worthy of the world’s fifth largest economy, with extensions along the east and west coast to Scotland and west to Bristol and Cardiff, as well as improved east-west links across the Midlands and the North, and further consideration of building the schemes out from the north at the same time as the south, to speed up completion of the full network.
HS2 is only part of that vision and Phase One is only the first step, but it is vital that we make that first step as quickly as possible.
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