HS2 approval throws ‘lifeline’ to consultants

Aaron Morby 12 years ago

The industry’s work-starved consultants reacted with relief to the Government’s decision to press ahead with the £33bn HS2 railway line.

The decision holds out the promise of much-needed design and consultancy work, expected to be worth up to £350m in fee income alone.

But the reaction from contractors was far more circumspect, as many feared the project start will be allowed to slip in the face of fierce local opposition and prolonged attacks on the cost effectiveness of the investment.

A spokesman for a national contractor said: “We of course welcome it, but the start date is set after the next election. A lot can happen between now and then as we have all seen over the years. The real heavy investment in construction seems like it is going to be a very long way off.”

Despite the caution about when contract work will materialise, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association called for contractors to be brought onto the project at the earliest stage.

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “The announcement of the go-ahead for the first phase of High Speed 2 is both a phenomenal opportunity for industry, but also an enormous challenge.

“The delivery of HS2, both on time and to budget, will confirm the strengths of the UK infrastructure sector at home and abroad.

He added: “Nonetheless, the decisions that are being made now have the potential to have a huge impact on the delivery of the project. It would be hugely beneficial for those contractors who will be working on HS2 to be involved in the development of the project, even at this early stage.

The Association for Consultancy & Engineering chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin said: “Industry is pleased to see broad cross-party support for HS2.

“The transport select committee reported that no alternative to HS2 offered the increased rail capacity and there is general agreement that the project will pay economic dividends.

“We hope this will see challenges and public concerns resolved quickly and constructively so as to get the project underway without delays.”

One consultant told the Enquirer: “We have been waiting for this and it promises to really boost work at a time when there is little about. It’s a real lifeline for all of us, because not much else is going on in the UK.

He added: “Every major player in the industry is bidding for the consultancy work, which has already come out to tender.”

Government project promoter High Speed 2 Ltd plans to select a framework of firms this year to cover architectural and engineering services, urban planning and landscape engineering, technical testing and analysis services.

Professional fees for the front end of the project have been estimated to cost anywhere from £250m to £350m.

Chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) HS2 Expert Panel, Steve Hayter, said: “Government’s willingness to explore different engineering options to minimise the impact on those communities affected must be welcomed.

“Tunnelling on this scale is a proven, effective engineering solution with many advantages. Engineers will now stand ready to do what they do best – overcoming any challenges and ensuring the project succeeds.”

Transport secretary Justine Greening revealed several new measures to mitigate the worst affects of the line, which will see journey times between London and Birmingham cut to just 49 minutes.

A new tunnel as the line passes through Ruislip in West London will remove all noise and visual impacts in that section of the route, and extended tunnelling  in the Chilterns will bring further benefits to that area.

The length of the line which is in tunnel or green tunnel has been increased by over 50%, to around 22.5 miles in nine individual sections.

In addition, around 56.5 miles of the 140 mile route will be partially or totally hidden in cuttings, and the amount on viaduct or embankment  has been substantially reduced.

This means that well over half of the route would be mitigated by a tunnel or cutting.

The Government also confirmed plans for a London link between HS1 and HS2 to allow passengers from Europe non-stop travel to the North.

The decision will also see huge investment in London’s Euston Station and a new station development at Old Oak Common in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Latest news

Contract race starts for next £155m section of A9 dualling

Prior Information Notice published for Tay Crossing to Ballinluig stretch
12 hours ago

£55m Sheffield build-to-rent scheme approved

Demolition to start later this year for 158-flat Sheffield Garden project
11 hours ago

London back as most expensive place to build in world

Capital leapfrogs Geneva to top costliest construction rankings
17 hours ago

Gas supplier Regent to buy TClarke for £90m

£491m turnover listed building services specialist to be sold
20 hours ago

Steel contractor Billington launches into bridge market

Steelwork firm hires staff from failed architectural and bridge specialist SH Structures
19 hours ago

McGee employees benefit from rise in profits

Pre-tax profit doubles boosting payouts for Employee Ownership Trust
20 hours ago

Lendlease veteran is latest new McAlpine director

Paul Sims joins as Operations Director after 40 years at rival contractor
2 days ago

Costain signs site labour supply deal with four firms

Contractor to use only a quartet of providers for temporary labour supply
20 hours ago

BAM go-ahead for Leeds 200,000 sq ft office

Latitude Yellow will complete final plot at Doncaster Monk Bridge site
1 day ago

VolkerFitzpatrick wins £30m logistics job

Latest deal to build five distribution units for Prologis UK
2 days ago

Trio win new Scape utilities consultancy framework

Perfect Circle, AtkinsRéalis and Arcadis win places on
20 hours ago

Precast firm FP McCann cleared after immigration raid

Home Office takes no action after public raid on construction site
2 days ago

Wates-owned SES restructure delivers record profit and revenue

Building services contractor revenue soars to almost £300m
2 days ago

25 groundworks firms win £100m Places for People deal

M&J Evans, Carmac and Churngold Construction feature in housing association's line-up
2 days ago

Energy efficiency firms angry at lack of CITB support

SME contractors funding bid "does not meet the current criteria for supporting productivity or EDI"
2 days ago

£400m South Cambridge science park approved

Outline approval allows former sewage treatment works to be demolished
2 days ago

McLaren gets green light for 45-storey Leeds tower

Landmark Wellington Square scheme will see 464 flats built with 360,000 sq ft of offices
5 days ago

Heavy rain causes 1.9% construction output fall

Hopes remain undampened of a resi-led recovery this summer
5 days ago

Taziker restruture to return to profitability after £1.2m loss

Founders bought the business back from private equity after last year's loss
5 days ago

£220m London wharf homes scheme approved

285 homes to be built beside protected Albert and Swedish Wharves in Wandsworth
5 days ago

Major project veteran named civils director for Sizewell C

David Speight previously worked on Hinkley, Heathrow and HS2 client teams
5 days ago

Morgan Sindall lands £19m Milton Keynes hospital job

Crane lifts to be carefully co-ordinated to ensure air ambulance remains active
5 days ago

Clancy bolsters civils leadership team

Daniel Tonkin and Simon Hyams join as operation directors of water and infrastructure
6 days ago

Balfour names new project boss for HS2’s super-hub station

Steve O’Sullivan replaces Nigel Russell who was promoted to CEO of Balfour's HS2 ops
6 days ago

Buckingham Group supply chain hit doubles to £256m

Total owed to unsecured creditors soars as surety providers finalise claims
6 days ago

Builders demand an end to police plant bans

Call to suspend all embargoes on moving mobile cranes and large site kit
6 days ago

Green light for £65m Blackpool multiversity campus

Education campus of 350,000 sq ft will be delivered in phases
6 days ago

Vinci signs £138m Sheffield steel forge expansion deal

Sheffield Forgemasters signs landmark contract after two years of pre-construction works
6 days ago

McAlpine hires HS2 programme boss to head defence arm

Armed forces logistics expert Mike Hickson takes role as MD of defence
7 days ago

£200m carbon capture plan for Deeside site

Energy from waste operator enfinium looking to invest in North Wales plant
6 days ago

Contractor services