Rail Industry Seeks Reassurances from Transport Secretary as Concerns Mount Over Future of Golborne Link in HS2 Phase 2b

Posted on 25 May 2022

The Department for Transport (DfT) has taken significant strides in the development of the HS2 high-speed rail program by preparing a comprehensive set of contracts, with a total value of up to £3.4 billion, for implementation over the next 18 months. These contracts, carefully outlined in the DfT's commercial pipeline document, represent a major milestone in advancing the ambitious infrastructure project.

Among the noteworthy contracts included in the pipeline, one particular agreement has captured significant attention: the contract for an automated people mover between the HS2 Birmingham Interchange station and Birmingham Airport. With an estimated value ranging between £100 million and £250 million, this contract aims to introduce innovative design and construction enhancements to promote seamless integration and accessibility. Notably, the revised plans for the people's move now incorporate a stop at the esteemed National Exhibition Centre, further bolstering the integration of transportation services in the region.

Another significant contract highlighted in the pipeline pertains to the vital civil works required for Phase 2a, which will connect the West Midlands to Crewe. This contract, anticipated to be worth between £500 million and £3 billion, is poised to enter the procurement phase in the near future. The successful execution of this contract will play a pivotal role in realising the envisioned high-speed rail network and unlocking its vast potential for economic growth and connectivity.

To provide a comprehensive overview, let us delve into the specific contracts outlined in the DfT's commercial pipeline document:

Land Referencing Services: This contract encompasses the establishment of a framework that supports the referencing of ownership and occupational interests in land. It aims to streamline the processes of accessing and acquiring land, as well as serving notices related to land possession and acquisition. The contract's value ranges between £50 million and £100 million. Procurement for this contract is scheduled for Q1 2022, with an expected contract commencement date in Q1 2024. The contract is projected to conclude in Q2 2028.

Built Environment Technical Support Framework: This contract seeks to provide comprehensive technical and engineering services crucial to the successful implementation of the high-speed rail program. The contract's value falls within the range of £10 million to £50 million, reflecting the critical expertise required for the project's technical aspects. The procurement process for this contract is set to commence in Q2 2022. However, the exact duration of the contract remains to be determined, pending further developments.

Phase 2a Main Civils Works Contracts: Undoubtedly one of the most significant contracts in the pipeline, this agreement encompasses the main civil works required for Phase 2a of the HS2 project. With an estimated value ranging between £500 million and £3 billion, this contract holds tremendous importance in driving forward the physical infrastructure needed for the high-speed rail network. While the packaging strategy for this contract is still under development, it is expected to enter the procurement phase in Q3 2022. The precise start and end dates of this contract are yet to be determined, reflecting the complexity and scale of the civil works involved.

Phase One North Stations: Automated People Mover: This contract marks a key milestone in the integration of transportation services, particularly in the Birmingham region. It entails the design and construction of an Automated People Mover system, with potential considerations for the maintenance and operation of certain assets. The envisioned People Move will facilitate efficient and seamless transportation of passengers from the HS2 Birmingham Interchange Station to Birmingham International Airport. Additionally, it will include stops at the prominent National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham International Rail Station, further enhancing connectivity and accessibility. Valued between £100 million and £250 million, this contract holds immense potential for transforming the travel experience and stimulating regional growth. While specific details regarding the procurement and contract dates are currently undisclosed, it represents a significant undertaking in the comprehensive development of the HS2 project.

In the midst of these advancements, concerns have emerged within the rail industry regarding the future of the Golborne link section of HS2 Phase 2b. In response, industry stakeholders have written an open letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, seeking reassurances that this critical link will be retained. Reports have indicated that Shapps privately assured senior Tory MPs of its removal from the Parliamentary bill prior to receiving Royal Assent. However, rail experts have voiced their apprehensions, arguing that removing the Golborne link, which connects HS2 to the West Coast Main Line for services to Scotland, would severely compromise the overall value and effectiveness of the HS2 project. The outcome of this matter remains uncertain, with implications for the future connectivity and efficiency of the high-speed rail network.

The Department for Transport's commitment to the HS2 project, as demonstrated through the preparation of these substantial contracts, reflects a steadfast determination to realize a transformative transportation infrastructure. By facilitating improved connectivity, accessibility, and regional integration, HS2 has the potential to reshape travel and stimulate economic growth on a significant scale. As these contracts progress and developments unfold, stakeholders eagerly anticipate the positive impact that HS2 will have on the transportation landscape and the communities it serves.

Share this article