HS2 Ltd to issue Notice to Proceed to Phase One contractors
Issuing the Notice to Proceed to the four Main Works Civils Contractors is the next significant step of Phase One of Britain’s HS2 project.
Following the publication of the Oakervee Review and the government’s decision in February 2020 to continue with the HS2 project, the Department for Transport (DfT) has given approval for HS2 Ltd to issue Notice to Proceed (NtP) to the four Main Works Civils Contractors (MWCCs) working on the project – SCS Railways, Align JV, EKFB JV, and BBV JV – to commence full detailed design and construction of Phase One of the HS2 railway (the route from London to the West Midlands).
So far, the contracts between HS2 Ltd and the MWCCs for Phase One have focused on undertaking scheme design and site preparation (including pricing and scoping) for the civils work. The issuing of NtP marks the point in the MWCC contracts where the work transitions from scheme design and preparatory work, to full detailed design and construction.
Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said: “In these difficult times, today’s announcement represents both an immediate boost to the construction industry – and the many millions of UK jobs that the industry supports – and an important investment in Britain’s future: levelling up the country, improving our transport network and changing the way we travel to help bring down carbon emissions and improve air quality for the next generation.”
The next significant step of Phase One
HS2 Ltd awarding the contracts to four MWCCs is the next significant step of Phase One of the project. An estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will be created during Phase One of HS2, supporting thousands of jobs on site and many more around the country. It is estimated that around 95 per cent of those contract opportunities will be won by UK-based businesses and around two thirds of those will be small- and medium-sized businesses.
Mark continued: “HS2 has been over 10 years in development and design. While the country’s focus is rightly on defeating COVID-19, the issuing of Notice to Proceed ensures that our contractors and their supply chains have the confidence that they can commit to building HS2, generating thousands of skilled jobs across the country as we recover from the pandemic.”
Responding to the announcement, Chair of the West Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy, Steve Hollis, said: “Today’s announcement is much needed positive news, not only for the West Midlands but for the whole country. Large-scale infrastructure projects, such as HS2, will play a key role in restarting the national economy, helping to reinvigorate a core part, the construction industry, and demonstrating the confidence the government has in the nation’s future.
“We are fortunate that the West Midlands is at the heart of the new HS2 network, home to two new high-speed stations, Curzon Street in Birmingham and Interchange at Solihull, and the national control centre located in Washwood Heath. Therefore, this announcement marks a major milestone in the project, with the construction of HS2 directly benefiting people and businesses across the region.”
Maria Machancoses, Director of Midlands Connect, said: “With Phase One now able to proceed, Midlands Connect can focus on ensuring Phase Two can move forward as quickly as possible, connecting the West Midlands to Crewe and Manchester in the west and to the East Midlands and Leeds in the east. To ensure the benefits of Phase Two are maximised, we are working to inform the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan to bring together HS2 and wider rail investments like our Midlands Engine Rail proposals. By integrating the network, we will encourage millions more people to make environmentally friendly travel choices, stimulate huge regeneration plans and create tens of thousands of new jobs. More than ever, we need this vision for future prosperity to be realised.”
John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight (GBRf), said: “This is welcome news for business across the construction supply chain. Uncertainty about the future of the project followed by the COVID-19 disruption has caused difficulties for the sector. Confidence that work is about to begin will be a big boost for businesses across the UK. Better connectivity across the country will be important in supporting the UK’s long-term economic growth. The go ahead for HS2 shows that that the government is willing to deliver on its promises to invest in infrastructure to support economic growth across the UK. GBRf has already been playing a role in supporting preparations for the construction phase to begin and we will support the delivery of the project though our role in the construction supply chain.”
Work to commence immediately
The MWCCs will commence work immediately, progressing detailed design, site preparation works and placing important sub-contracts. The contractors are continuously reviewing their ability to work within Public Health England guidelines to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the workforce and the communities in which the works impact.
The HS2 railway is a significant investment both in the near and longer-term economic health of the country. HS2 is ‘shovel-ready’ and will drive investment right across the UK. Cities including Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester are already benefitting several years before the railway opens. Once operational, HS2 will serve over 25 stations connecting around 30 million people. HS2 will significantly improve connectivity in the North and Midlands and will also integrate the existing network serving stations into Scotland, creating 500,000 extra jobs and 90,000 homes around HS2 stations.
The Joint Ventures and construction companies involved, and their areas of route are as follows:
- SCS Railways (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG) – £3.3 billion: Euston Tunnels and Approaches; and Northolt Tunnels
- Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics SAS, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, a subsidiary of VolkerWessels UK) – £1.6 billion: Chiltern Tunnels and Colne Valley Viaduct
- EKFB JV (Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman) – £2.3 billion: North Portal Chiltern Tunnels to Brackley; and Brackley to South Portal of Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel
- BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement) – £4.8 billion: Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel to Delta Junction and Birmingham Spur; and Delta Junction to West Coast Main Line Tie-In (Handsacre Junction).
Jean-Pierre Margolin, Executive Director at Bouygues Travaux Publics and an Align Board Director, commented: “I am delighted with how the Align team has come together to develop the design and planning in close coordination with all stakeholders involved for what will be an iconic element of HS2. Each company involved in the Align JV is proud to be playing its part in delivering Europe’s largest infrastructure project.”
Daniel Altier, Align Project Director, added: “This is a complex project however we have delivered some unique innovations to address the engineering challenges relating to both design and planned construction of the tunnel, the tunnel shafts and the viaduct. It’s both rewarding and exciting to get the construction element of the project underway.”
Tony Gates, Managing Director at Sir Robert McAlpine, commented: “The Notice to Proceed is, of course, welcome news not just for Sir Robert McAlpine, but for the country as a whole. This is an investment not just into vital infrastructure, but into the creation of thousands of jobs for UK workers. The skills and experiences those working on the project will pick up will be hugely important for helping tackle future engineering challenges. As we tackle an ambitious plan, which includes a landmark viaduct and twin-bored tunnel, we have an opportunity to not just demonstrate the technical excellence that marks out this country’s construction sector, but also the seamless collaboration between parties required to deliver Europe’s largest infrastructure project.”