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HS2: Payment may depend on BIM work

HS2 contractors may need to complete work in BIM as well as on the railway before being paid, a key figure has warned.

Beth West, commercial director at project promoter HS2, said building information modelling was at the heart of delivering the £43bn line.

Her comments came after research showed few sub-contractors regularly used Level 2 BIM, which relies on a common data environment being maintained by the supply chain.

“BIM is really critical to delivering this railway,” West told a suppliers day in London.

“We are in the process of procuring some support to help with upskilling. We want to get ourselves set up to be able to manage BIM so we can reach the aspirations the government has for being Level 2 BIM by 2016.

“Do we want to say: ‘We are not going to pay you until your information is in BIM,’ which would solve a whole host of problems?”

West said it would be “crazy” not to use BIM on the scheme to create a quicker rail line between London and the North.

“We should know where the assets are, how they’re based and what’s going on with them so when we get to maintenance we can use technology to assess conditions rather than always doing site visits,” she said.

“We did the upskilling study because we were concerned from the conference last year and anecdotal information about whether the supply chain was going to be ready [for Level 2 BIM].

“We found that most Tier One contractors were talking about it in some way but further down the supply chain it was a rather mixed bag.”

West added that the client was considering stepping in to pay sub-contractors directly where necessary.

“We are discussing how we can ensure fair payment to small and medium sized suppliers,” she said.

“We are considering the possibility of direct payments to subcontractors where main contractors are failing to do so in the times we require.”

West also pledged that the pre-qualification process for nine major contracts on phase one of the proposed rapid rail link would start next year.

Readers' comments (3)

  • stephen gibson

    The evidence is that using BIM reduces free and fair competition from SME suppliers which drives up project costs.

    It would be "crazy" to use a building information system for a railway. BIM does not solve problems, people do. Better technical design and clearer communication can achieve far more than expensive computer modelling packages.

    Stephen Gibson

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  • I agree with stephen here. BIM is not effective in all projects and should be selected judicially. BIM is widely used in Oli and Gas sector where its use is significant as it involves very high level of complex mechanical, process and CE&I systems supported by CS&A structures and there is a real potential of clashes in this complex environment. A sound engineering interface strategy without BIM is as well effective in my experience and hence BIM capability should not be used as a deciding factor in HS2 or any such projects.

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  • Building Information Management systems should not cause fear and frustration amongst the stakeholders of the HS2 project. Their managerial objective is clear and demonstrable. However, the holistic usage of the BIM systems through conceptualisation of project, design, procurement, implementation, transition and entry into operation, full MRO phase, reinvestment in new capability, planned decommissioning and upgrade/ replacement and new service cycle, need to be the absolute responsibility of the infrastructure / service owner. Is this the case here? Are the designers putting the cart before the horse? Are current and future IT requirements of the community truely considered?

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