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Inside story | How HS2 dealt with CH2M's 2b bid

HS2 High Speed Rail

High Speed 2 Ltd (HS2) interim chief executive Roy Hill was only told which bids had won the High Speed 2 Phase 2b development partner and engineering and environmental consultant contracts less than half an hour before the details were made public.

The revelation from HS2 Ltd came as the project’s promoter detailed a range of special measures in place to ensure there were no conflicts of interest when CH2M’s bid for the phase 2b developer role was assessed.

CH2M is already the development partner for phase 1 of the HS2 project and it has just been named as the development partner for phase 2b of the works.

Questions about the assessment of the bid were asked as HS2 Ltd, current chief executive and his predecessor were both senior CH2M employees. CH2M European managing director Roy Hill was appointed HS2 Ltd interim chief executive last year and CH2M managing director Mark Thurston was named permanent chief executive in January this year.

HS2 Ltd has defended its procurement process saying it recognised the potential for conflicts of interest and put additional measures in place to prevent them.

“It was recognised from the start that it’s a totally legitimate question to ask, and that people would have question marks about this,” said an HS2 spokesperson. “That’s why the board acted to put those extra assurances in place.”

By the time Hill joined the organisation, tenders from all three of the short-listed bidders had been returned with safeguards put in place to ensure the integrity of the procurement process.

A special board of 50 evaluators was employed to review tenders and a give an independent assessment. In addition to this, a special board committee was set up to review this process.

“We also commissioned an independent assurance panel with members appointed by the Institution of Civil Engineers to undertake a strategic review of the evaluation and the award process,” said the spokesperson.

Hill was also subject to special requirements which included leaving meetings when the tenders were discussed. Redacted minutes were also produced to ensure Hill did not see information relating to the tenders. Hill also had special clauses written into his contract to sever all ties with CH2M for the duration of his HS2 Ltd contract.

“Throughout the process, all three bids were anonymised and that was the case until about 12 o’clock [on the day the winning bidder were named] when Roy [Hill] was informed,” said the spokesperson.

“We’re confident we’ve done everything we can to make this fair and transparent.”

HS2 Ltd appointed the Phase 2b development partner and engineering and environmental consultants yesterday.

Consultants CH2M, Arup, Aecom/Capita/Ineco and Mott MacDonald/WSP were awarded the HS2 design packages for phase 2b, between Crewe and Manchester, and Birmingham and Leeds.

The appointments followed an 11 month competitive process, during which seven multi-national bidders were invited to tender for four packages of work.

CH2M will be Phase 2b development partner and work with teams from Arup, Aecom/Capita/Ineco and Mott MacDonald/WSP.

The value of the contracts is around £520M.


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