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HS2: Civils deals to be awarded ahead of Royal Assent

Major civils contracts for Phase One of the £43bn High Speed 2 scheme will be in place before the Bill to allow its construction is passed by Parliament, the project promoter has revealed.

HS2 chief executive Simon Kirby said the client planned to procure construction teams on a two-stage design and build basis, with much of the design work taking place ahead of the Hybrid Bill gaining Royal Assent, which is expected to happen in 2016.

He told an audience of 700 potential suppliers at an event in London that he expected a total of 15 tier one contracts to be awarded on the proposed project to build a rapid rail link from London to the North.

“We are looking at early contractor involvement relationships,” he said. “Before Royal Assent we are planning to do a substantial amount of design activity.

“We won’t be going to [procurement] stage two until we have Royal Assent. But we are looking for relationships to form on stage one.

“Providing all the parties have met certain criteria then stage two will be theirs to lose. The ideal is to procure all tier one contracts at stage one.”

Kirby added that construction of HS2 was “not going to be business as usual”.

“It needs to be built better, faster and cheaper than any other high speed railway,” he said.

“We need new standards of railway construction and companies and individuals able to innovate constantly.”

Safety will be a key factor in the selection of contractors.

“If you remember one thing about what we are looking for, remember that safety is our strongest value,” Kirby told delegates.

“Our partners must have rigorous safety processes with long records of achieving high standards. Every person must be safe all the time. Unsafe companies will not be tolerated on HS2.”

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