European contracting giants are playing a major part in almost all High Speed 2 (HS2) construction bid teams, NCE can reveal.
Spanish and French contractors - and relative UK unknowns - FCC, Dragados, Acciona and Eiffage are joining the more familiar French firms Vinci and Bouygues in the hunt for £9bn of design and build work on phase one of the £43bn scheme.
Consortiums will be competing for nine, £1bn design and build contracts when bidding begins in earnest later this year.
FCC Construcción, currently building the Mersey Gateway as its first UK project, is to team up with Murphy and offsite construction pioneer Laing O’Rourke.
Laing O’Rourke and Murphy are already working in joint venture to bid for £900M of enabling works on HS2. Tendering began for work packages covering the North, Central and South areas of the London to Birmingham leg of the rapid rail link last month.
It is understood that FCC Construcción will join the team to compete for the main tier one packages later in the year.
Fellow Spanish giant Dragados is understood to be teamed up with sister firm Hochtief as well as Kier.
Dragados is fresh from completing Crossrail’s Eastern running tunnels in joint venture with John Sisk and is currently working up detailed designs for the complex Bank Station Upgrade for London Underground.
Spanish contractor Ferrovial is a more familiar presence in the UK and has teamed up with Bam and Morgan Sindall.
UK newcomer Acciona is still understood to be forming its team.
Meanwhile, France’s Vinci has teamed up with Balfour Beatty. Bouygues, relatively new to infrastructure work in the UK, has formed the Align consortium that also includes Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerWessels. It unveiled its branding at the British Tunnelling Society annual dinner last week.
Eiffage, also a rare visitor to the UK, has teamed up with Carillion in an extension to an agreement struck in 2009 for the two firms to collaborate on new nuclear in the UK.
Carillion and Eiffage have worked together before, notably on the Channel Tunnel and the Copenhagen Metro. Notable Eiffage projects include the stunning Millau Viaduct and the LGV Perpignan-Figueras high speed railway line.
Costain is expected to bid in a joint venture with Swedish headquartered Skanska. Project promoter HS2 Ltd revealed earlier this year that the £43bn project was attracting companies that had never worked on UK infrastructure before.
“It is the type of competition we were looking for,” HS2 Ltd commercial director Beth West told NCE in February (NCE 12 February).
“There are some new entrants to the UK market, which is good as they bring experience from overseas.”
HS2 Ltd says expects to issue prequalification documents in the fourth quarter of this year and wants to have frameworks in place by “early 2016”.
The hybrid bill to allow construction of phase one is anticipated to gain Royal Assent in late 2016. Construction could begin in 2018.