Construction News

Tue June 15 2021

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HS2 begins search for £2bn of slab track

4 May 20 HS2 has begun the procurement process for specialist contractors that will deliver around 280km of railway track.

CGI of the planned Colne Valley viaduct
CGI of the planned Colne Valley viaduct

The new contract opportunities cover the design and build of the track systems between London, Birmingham and Crewe, where HS2 trains will join the existing West Coast Mainline. The selected suppliers will also take a lead role in managing and coordinating the complex interfaces between the track and other elements of the rail systems.

Contracts covering rail, switches & crossings, and pre-cast slab track systems will be awarded separately – with the track systems suppliers coordinating the design and installation.

HS2 Ltd said that the start of the formal procurement process for this first set of rail systems contracts marked ‘an important new phase’ in the HS2 project.

Procurement and commercial director David Poole said: “Rail systems are some of the most important parts of the HS2 project – the high tech equipment and systems that will allow our trains to deliver an unparalleled service in terms of speed, frequency and reliability. The launch of this new procurement contest is an important milestone for the project, and a significant opportunity for the industry and the wider supply chain. At the peak of construction, HS2 will support around 30,000 jobs and contracts like this will provide a real boost for employers across the supply chain, helping to boost skills and provide opportunities for years to come.”

Six more sets of rail systems contracts are due to be launched later in the year, covering signalling, the overhead catenary that will provide power to the trains, mechanical & electrical systems, high voltage power supplies, communications systems and the depot and control centre at Washwood Heath in Birmingham.

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Four separate track packages will be awarded, with a combined value of nearly £2bn:

  • Lot 1 - Phase One (Urban, London and Birmingham) – £434m
  • Lot 2 - Phase One (Open Route, Central) – £526m
  • Lot 3 - Phase One (Open Route, North) – £566m
  • Lot 4 - Track – Phase 2a – £431m

To reduce long-term costs and improve performance, the track will be set onto concrete slabs instead of the ballast commonly used on the UK rail network. This slab track approach is commonly used on metro systems and some international high speed rail lines, and will allow for a higher frequency of service with less maintenance, HS2 says.

The winning bidders will also be responsible for the design, installation and testing of switches and crossings, managing construction logistics and co-ordination, and supporting the testing and commissioning phase. They will also act as construction design and management (CDM) principal contractor for the track and be responsible for logistics and consents co-ordination.

Shortlists are expected towards the end of the year, with contract awards in 2022.

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