High Speed 2.

UK: The government launched the bidding process for the construction of High Speed 2 on September 24, with the issuing of a pre-qualification questionnaire for the Tranche 1 main civils works contracts.

The seven contracts with a total value of £11·8bn cover construction of the surface route and tunnels for the London – Birmingham Phase 1 of the planned HS2 network between London, Manchester and Leeds.

Suppliers can express interest in all seven packages. Following the PQQ, successful applicants will be invited to bid for up to four packages, and would be awarded a maximum of two contracts per tenderer.

The seven contracts are split over three geographical areas. There will also be an option for additional contracts covering the route north of Birmingham, subject to ministerial decisions later in the year.

Procurement for the Tranche 2 contracts covering the stations is to be launched in 2016, with the Tranche 3 contracts covering railway systems following in 2017.

Construction would commence in 2017 following royal assent to the Phase 1 hybrid bill which is being considered by parliament. Opening is planned for 2026.

‘The start of the civil engineering bidding process is a major milestone for HS2 as we continue to move towards the start of construction in 2017’, said Simon Kirby, Chief Executive of project delivery company HS2 Ltd. ‘Over the next decade, the winners of these contracts will go on to build 230 km of bridges, tunnels and earthworks and create thousands of jobs across the construction industry.’

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced the start of tendering during a tour of China which aims to attract Chinese investors to HS2 and other UK projects. He also announced a HS2 partnering day where British and Chinese firms can explore working together to bid for contracts, and invited Chinese participation in the National College for High Speed Rail opening in 2017. A skills-swap programme would allow the UK to benefit from China’s high speed‎ rail expertise, and help Chinese investors better understand the UK market.