HS2 Board Focuses on Critical Construction Handover for Phase One to Ensure Timely Delivery and Cost Control

Posted on 11 May 2021

HS2 Board Identifies Critical Construction Handover for Phase One to Avoid Delays and Cost Overruns

The board of HS2 Ltd, the organisation responsible for the ambitious high-speed rail project connecting London and Birmingham, is placing great emphasis on ensuring smooth handovers between construction contractors and systems integration partners. The board recently convened in a disclosed meeting held in March, where they unveiled the results of a comprehensive Schedule mitigation plan. This plan, which underwent an extensive four-month exercise from November 2020 to February 2021, has prompted the board to re-sequence the construction handovers for Phase One of the project. Recognizing the pivotal role of this optimization in achieving success for Phase One, the board has underscored the significance of resequencing handovers from Construction Portfolios to Systems Portfolios, with particular attention on the transition from Civils to High-Speed Railway Systems.

Phase one of the HS2 project is already well underway, having received the official go-ahead from Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year. The targeted completion for the first phase is set between 2029 and 2033, with eager anticipation for the transformation it will bring to transportation in the region. The budget allocated for this phase, including the development of Euston station, stands at an estimated £44.6 billion (2019 prices). This comprehensive budget encompasses a target cost of £40.3 billion, covering the core project expenses, and an additional government-retained contingency of £4.3 billion, which has been allocated to effectively manage the inherent risks and uncertainties associated with executing such a large-scale infrastructure endeavour.

In response to the challenges faced in systems integration, valuable lessons learned from the delays and cost overruns experienced during the Crossrail project have been taken into account. Both the National Audit Office and the London Assembly raised concerns regarding Crossrail's management of rail systems integration, prompting a careful examination of the processes and strategies employed. Mark Wild, CEO of Crossrail, acknowledged that the setbacks and cost overruns experienced during the project were partly attributed to having individuals in inappropriate management positions during critical stages of the delivery program. These insights have highlighted the need for project management to evolve and ensure the right team is in place throughout all stages of project delivery, fostering situational awareness and effective decision-making.

With the aim of streamlining operations and minimising the risks of delays and cost overruns, HS2 is committed to establishing a comprehensive construction target schedule by July. This schedule will encompass agreed milestones, quantities, costs, and deliverables, serving as a roadmap for the project's advancement. The experiences and lessons learned from the Crossrail project have underscored the importance of early systems integration. Recognising this crucial lesson, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harri has emphasised the significance of integrating systems at an early stage, drawing on the valuable insights gained from the Crossrail project. By incorporating these insights into its strategies and processes, HS2 aims to optimise its construction processes, ensure efficient handovers, and ultimately deliver a high-speed rail network that meets the needs of the region while adhering to cost and schedule targets.

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