The time allowed for developing a design for High Speed 2 (HS2) should be “revisited”, the High Speed 2 Independent Design Panel has said.
It said while it welcomed the approach taken by HS2 Ltd to engage new contractors in ‘hot start’ sessions to explain its design vision, more time for the contractor design could result in “significant” long term gains.
“Whilst supportive of the emphasis on design quality, the panel recommends that the time allowed for contractor design should be revisited,” it said in its latest monthly newsletter.
“Allowing sufficient time to develop civil engineering designs could result in significant long term gains.”
Consultant DK&A has been responsible for developing the sessions which introduce newly appointed contractors to the design principles set out by the HS2 Ltd.
An HS2 spokesperson said: “We recognise the central importance to HS2 of great design, and are hugely encouraged by the independent design panel’s observations about our aim of achieving design quality for Britain’s new high speed rail network.
”To help achieve that we have made time available for our contractors to undertake design development. We will consider the panel’s thoughts on this process as we work towards delivering HS2 on time and on budget.”
The panel, chaired by architecture firm dRMM co-founder Sadie Morgan, was set up in late 2015 to act as an independent review board for the design of the new line. The panel includes experts such as Heatherwick Studio founder Thomas Heatherwick, Jane Wernick from Jane Wernick Associates and David Prout from the Department for Transport.
The design panel also said one of the “key” messages from it to HS2 was the importance learning lessons from phase 1 of the route to apply them to phase 2.
In particular, the panel highlighted the need for views from the train. It said to make the travelling by HS2 an enjoyable experience, more views needed to be incorporated into the phase 2 route. It said on phase 1, only 7 minutes of the journey from London to Birmingham would have a view with the rest of the route hidden away.
“The panel would encourage HS2 Ltd to improve this on phase 2, celebrating the new railway through the quality of its design, rather than hiding it behind embankments,” it said.