Marie-Claude Hemming, Director of External Affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association explains the importance of their Partnership Agreement with HS2

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association and High Speed Two have signed a Partnership Agreement committing to work together to improve delivery practices and drive better performance through engagement across the civil engineering supply chain.

CECA is the representative body for companies who work day-to-day to deliver, upgrade, and maintain the UK’s transport and utility networks. With more than 300 members throughout England, Scotland and Wales, we represent firms who together carry out up to 80 per cent of all civil engineering activity in the UK, in the key sectors of transport, energy, communications, waste and water.

Our members include some of the largest construction firms as well as a range of small specialist and regional contractors. In total, our industry supports the employment of over 200,000 people in the UK with annual activity worth £25 billion.

The Partnership Agreement – which was launched in May at a meeting of CECA’s recently established SME Advisory Board – celebrates the long-term relationship between the two organisations, which began nearly a decade ago.

As an established trade association, we have worked closely with HS2 for many years, offering continuous support and positive engagement from the earliest stages of its development.

The Partnership Agreement builds on this positive relationship, ensuring that we will continue to work well together to deliver this world class infrastructure project as efficiently and innovatively as possible.

The Agreement has two main aims which are to develop areas of mutual interest through joint working, which will be underpinned by objectives designed to improve communication, cooperation and the sharing of best practice.

The Agreement will ensure the forward visibility of investment for CECA members and help identify early stage opportunities to improve safety, customer service, and supply chain engagement. It also intends to help mitigate the risks and challenges to the civil engineering sector in the construction of HS2.

CECA will work with HS2 via our established member led groups, notably our Transport, Rail and SME groups. We will also offer specific support to HS2 as appropriate for individual projects and programmes related to project development, procurement, delivery and post delivery. These activities will include workshops, member research, supplier conferences and meet the buyer events.

The delivery of HS2 will create thousands of supply chain contract opportunities for companies large and small in the civil engineering sector over the next ten years. In order to deliver this long term, complex project we must work effectively together using the vast expertise of the supply chain.

CECA especially welcomes HS2’s commitment to supporting SMEs, and we look forward to understanding the upcoming opportunities for smaller businesses and to working with our members to understand how they can prepare for them.

HS2 Ltd has already awarded around £18bn worth of contracts directly and a significant proportion of this value is expected to flow out to the wider supply chain. By the end of 2022, it is estimated that this figure will reach around £25 billion. Over 2,000 businesses have already won work on the project, 70 per cent of which are SMEs.

CECA research has found that for each 1,000 jobs that are directly created in infrastructure construction, employment as a whole rises by 3,053 jobs. Furthermore, for every £1 billion of infrastructure construction increases overall economic activity by £2.842 billion. For HS2 specifically, for every £1 invested in HS2 the UK will receive £2.30 in benefits – £92 billion of benefits overall.

Once fully completed, the UK’s second high speed railway line will add greater capacity along the UK’s current main North-South rail routes; West Coast, East Coast and Midland main lines and will take substantial pressure off the existing rail network, relieving overcrowding on passenger trains, creating more space for the freight industry and helping the UK meet its net zero commitments.

In the long term, HS2 will also join together 25 of our towns and cities and will form the backbone for both Northern Powerhouse Rail and the Midlands Rail Hub, contributing to jobs and growth across the UK.

It offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform the way we travel, to transform our economy, our regions, our local places and our communities. In essence, HS2 will join up the UK and put greater opportunities within the reach of many.

This Partnership Agreement forms part of a series of agreements which CECA is signing with key clients to support the roll out of world class infrastructure across the UK. If you would like further details on this or on any other area of CECA’s work, please email


Marie-Claude Hemming is Director of External Affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association