HS2 Ltd has said it intends to start talks with Bechtel with a view to awarding it the £170M Phase 2b development partner contract.
CH2M pulled out of the HS2 Phase 2b development partner contract on Wednesday after ongoing questions about conflicts of interest for HS2 Ltd during the procurement process. Bechtel was second place in the procurement process after CH2M, with Mace running third.
HS2 Ltd initially awarded CH2M the £170M development partner role in February this year. But losing bidder Mace challenged the decision, asking if there had been a conflict of interest between the two. Current HS2 Ltd interim chief executive Roy Hill and incoming permanent chief executive Mark Thurston had both been recruited from CH2M.
Project promoter HS2 Ltd said it intends to follow standard procurement practice whereby the second choice automatically steps up if the first choice pulls out. It said it needs to talk any deal through with Bechtel before the contract can be awarded.
An HS2 Ltd spokesman said it had “absolutely no plans” to rerun the procurement exercise. This was reiterated in Parliament yesterday when transport secretary Chris Grayling also ruled out any inquiry in the procurement of the contract following first choice bidder CH2M’s withdrawal.
HS2 is meeting with Mace today in a bid answer further questions on the procurement process.
Mace says it isn’t ruling out any further steps at this stage, including possible legal action.
The Phase 2b development partner contract will essentially nail down the details of the route so that a bill can be formed to go through Parliament to give approval for the project. It hopes to get the bill into Parliament in 2019.
CH2M says it has always been transparent about who has been working on its HS2 bid, while HS2 Ltd says it put in procedures to avoid any conflict of interest for staff who used to work at CH2M.