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Top HS2 bidders could get to cherry-pick their contracts

HS2 High Speed Rail

Teams bidding for up to £11.8bn of civils work on High Speed 2 could be offered the chance to cherry-pick which sections they want to work on, the project’s procurement boss has revealed.

HS2 Ltd commercial director Beth West said the project promoter would open dialogue with consortiums that impressed for more than two of the seven deals currently on offer to build phase one of the rapid rail link.

Nine teams were this week shortlisted by the client for the surface route and tunnels packages for the London-to-Birmingham leg of the £55bn scheme. But while some will be invited to tender for as many as four deals, they can’t win more than two.

“We have a transparent and objective scoring process and will score every bid on its merits,” West told New Civil Engineer.

“It is possible that we end up with four to seven outright winners but if [a team comes out top on three or more lots] we will ask for preferences. We may also have preferences in terms of geography and natural pairings.”

Invitations to tender will be issued within “a couple of months”, West said, with contract awards by summer 2017.

Questionnaires and behavioural assessments will be used to differentiate the bidders, with a design reference section representing “more of an exam question” than a full design process.

The promoter hopes to get royal assent by the end of this year for the hybrid bill allowing phase one of the scheme to go ahead, and to get enabling works underway shortly afterwards, with main civils starting on site in early 2018.

West hailed the efforts of the civils industry so far.

“We have had a great response from the market and I’m pleased with how it’s gone,” she said. “I have not seen the tenders but it has been a good dialogue so far.”

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