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Northern Powerhouse Rail boss calls for joint HS2 procurement strategy


The man driving the Northern Powerhouse Rail project has called for joined-up thinking with High Speed 2 Ltd to deliver both projects on time and within budget.

Transport for the North director of Northern Powerhouse Rail Tim Wood told New Civil Engineer that the cost and delivery of both projects would benefit from cross-project purchasing and procurement.

Wood - who is a speaker at New Civil Engineer’s Future of Rail conference next month - said the delivery bodies behind both schemes would benefit from synchronised procurement strategies such as buying tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in time to work on both schemes.

“We have to make sure we have a guiding mind – or a common thinking – across the industry so that we are not criss-crossing each other,” Wood said.

“So, if I need four track renewal trains and my colleagues in High Speed 2 need eight track renewal trains, [we need to ask] ‘when do we need them?’ and identify if there is a cross over.

“Likewise, if I need tunnel boring equipment, where is the crossover [with HS2]? Where is the crossover for resources and how can that benefit all parties?”

Wood added: “The challenge now is making sure that we send those key messages to the supply chain around the world. So people can make decisions in their boardrooms rather than trying to react to opportunities arising too late.”

The £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail project will be a priority focus in a crucial review of government spending over the next five years, chancellor Philip Hammond has previously said.

Official plans for the rail project – connecting Hull, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield – were submitted to the government by Transport for the North as part of a £70bn transport strategy in February.

To achieve a collaborative way of working, Wood said that he would be insisting that the chief executives and managing directors behind bidding contractors walked the route so that he could “see the whites of their eyes”.

He added: “We only need the A teams on here, and the companies that want to work collaboratively.

“Some people can’t spell collaboration but they will need to learn, and they will need to learn quickly as that is how we want to work.”

  • To get the full update on what’s happening in the rail sector join us at New Civil Engineer’s Future of Rail conference 26-27 June 2019. Call Ben Joudar on 020 3953 2623 to find out more. 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Joined-up thinking between Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 makes sense, however it should go beyond procurement and include joined-up shared infrastructure. If Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 were to share the use of a new trans-Pennine rail tunnel between Manchester and Leeds then both organisations cold achieve their prime objectives at much reduced overall cost to taxpayers and causing much reduced environmental impact.

    The proposal for "HS2 North" should be seriously explored before committing to developing separate schemes by TfN and HS2 respectively.

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  • Fully agree far more collaboration is needed to make London-centric HS2 and NPR compatible, starting with review of the wisdom of saddling Manchester and Leeds with London pointing termini.

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