HS2 event highlights opportunities

Construction going on in Birmingham city centre for the multi-billion pound HS2 project

The firm behind Britain’s controversial high speed rail system, HS2 Ltd, hosted a four day event which it says highlighted business opportunities across the region.

The huge rail link which cuts a swathe across the Midlands on its way from London during Phase 1, skirts Sutton Coldfield as it makes its way through Birmingham, running close to Bassetts Pole and Whittington near Lichfield.

HS2 Ltd hosted the event showcasing £12bn worth of contract opportunities that businesses from across the UK can find out how to prepare and start bidding for.

Despite being billions over budget and beset with delays, the firm says the event gave businesses, across hundreds of sectors, a crucial insight into how they can become part of HS2’s rapidly growing supply chain, which already includes over 2,000 businesses.

Many of the HS2 critics are environmental groups which claim the project could increase carbon emissions and cause huge damage to natural habitats, including dozens of ancient woodlands. They claim that constructing the railway lines through these areas could also threaten the survival of certain species

The four-day programme was delivered in partnership with HS2’s four main works construction partners (Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV)); Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial, BAM Nutall (EKFB)); Align and Skanska Costain STRABAG (SCS)) and two stations contractors (Balfour Beatty/VINCI/SYSTRA and Mace/Dragados), who between them will unlock thousands of individual work packages which range in size and value between £5,000 and £200m.

The agenda for the first three days consistsd of 24 opt-in webinars, delivered by over 60 presenters, which allow delegates to learn about the HS2 scheme, HS2 Ltd’s procurement processes and the programme of works its contractors are undertaking. Monday’s session begins with an introduction from HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson MP.

The final day presented the opportunity for over 1,000 potential suppliers to meet one-to-one with HS2’s construction partners, who are looking for new entrants into their supply chain to deliver their 2021/22 work packages.

The potential contracts represent a huge boost for British businesses seeking security and growth amidst the economic uncertainty arising from the Coronavirus pandemic.

HS2 Ltd has so far awarded 98 per cent of its current contracts to UK-based businesses; 70 per cent of which have gone to SMEs, and it aims to continue that positive trend through direct engagement with suppliers and local business during the Meet the Contractor event.

The £12bn boost reflects the scale of progress to date in delivering HS2’s Phase One programme between London and Birmingham, as work on the tunnels, viaducts and station foundations along the 140-mile route gathers pace.

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