Lisa Hamilton, HS2 Project Manager at the West Midlands Combined Authority takes a look at the business opportunities being presented by HS2
One new high-speed rail, 2 new stations, 104,000 new jobs and £14 billion in GVA. The HS2 project is coming and it’s time for West Midlands businesses to grasp the opportunities.
HS2 is the largest infrastructure project in Europe; it is delivering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive economic growth and prosperity across the West Midlands and create a legacy in terms of regeneration, jobs, skills, and connectivity.
HS2 will provide new links to businesses, clients, suppliers and services, through a fast, efficient network: Manchester, Leeds and London will all be within an hour of Birmingham.
The scale of HS2, the largest infrastructure project in Europe, creates the requirement for an extensive and varied supply chain. This provides unprecedented opportunities for businesses in the West Midlands for the next 20 years, across a vast and diverse range of areas from design to construction, catering to cleaning, and manufacturing to maintenance.
Speaking about the impact that HS2 will have on the economy, the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Andy Street, said: ‘The HS2 Supply Chain Programme will deliver incredible economic benefits to the West Midlands, allowing local businesses to realise the value from the millions of pounds of infrastructure investment in the region. The works that will soon be starting across the region signal the start of the amazing impact that HS2 will deliver for the region.
‘What is so impressive about the HS2 Supply Chain Programme is that it will be local businesses and employees receiving the benefit, allowing the region to increase jobs, improve education and further highlight the bright future that HS2 has the potential to deliver.’
People automatically think of trains and tracks when they think about HS2, but the breadth and depth of the supply chain required is much more than this and a key challenge is ensuring that West Midlands companies are aware of the opportunities that we would like them to be able to fulfil.
The West Midlands will have 2 stations in the first phase of the network, 1 at Curzon Street in Birmingham, and an interchange station at The Hub in Solihull. The designers have just been appointed by HS2, so it will be several months before we know what the stations will look like but plans for the surrounding areas are well underway.
These stations will be much more than iconic new additions to the skyline, they are the keys to realising the potential across the wider region; through the Curzon Masterplan and the Urban Growth Company’s vision for The Hub at Solihull, this regeneration linked to HS2’s arrival is expected to create thousands of new homes and 50,000 jobs in Birmingham and Solihull alone.
As well as the new stations, there will be huge investment in civil engineering work as the high-speed line is constructed, while an extensive programme of preparatory works, ranging from archaeology investigations to nature conservation, is already underway and will continue over the next few years.
For all aspects of the work, HS2 will directly procure and manage a relatively small number of high-value major works contracts which will be delivered directly by Tier 1 contractors. These contractors will then procure and manage many smaller sub-contractors, engaging a much larger and more diverse range of smaller suppliers. These smaller sub-contracted businesses need to understand the procurement processes and prepare themselves so they’re ready for when these business opportunities materialise.
Laing O’Rourke and J. Murphy & Sons, 2 of the UK’s leading engineering and construction companies, are currently managing the enabling works in the West Midlands for Phase 1 as LM. Balfour Beatty and Vinci have combined to form the BBV joint venture and were awarded the Tier One civils works for area north.
WSP UK (working with Grimshaw Architects LLP) has been awarded the contract to help develop and refine the detailed plans for Birmingham Curzon Street, while Ove Arup & Partners International (working with Arup Associates and Wilkinson Eyre Architects) is doing the same for Birmingham Interchange.
Commenting on the need for businesses to be aware of the processes, Sean O’Brien, Procurement Leader for the LM joint venture, said: ‘The HS2 project is starting to pick up pace as we move through 2018. As we confirm the scope of our requirements, we will see a dramatic increase in the number of Tier 2, and then Tier 3 and 4, contracts being made available.
‘It is critical that businesses are aware, through our CompeteFor portal, of the types, and timings of contracts available, and the eligibility criteria they will be required to meet.’
Opportunities for SMEs
At the HS2 Growth Delivery Team, we are undertaking a number of initiatives to maximise the success of local businesses securing contacts. For example, it is imperative that all businesses wishing to deal with HS2 are capable of using BIM (building information modelling).
There is a West Midlands-specific site (www.bimwm.co.uk) for this essential deliverable of public sector projects. HVM City is a regional platform that links to all CompeteFor opportunities but has been enhanced to provide regional businesses with access to many more regional and national opportunities. Right now, the West Midlands is experiencing a renaissance.
As well as projects that link to HS2, such as the Midland Metro Alliance extensions across the region through Birmingham and Wolverhampton, or the wider development of The Hub at Solihull, there are further infrastructure projects that are taking place at the same time, like the Paradise development and very soon we will see the preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
Businesses are advised to keep an eye on all future HS2 contract announcements on HVM City, as construction of the stations and rolling stock maintenance depot at Washwood Heath begins, as well as the work that will be required for further phases of the line when they get royal assent. Phase 2a, between the West Midlands and Crewe, is currently being reviewed by the High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Bill Committee. Along with Phase 2b (Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds), Phase 2a will create thousands of additional supply chain sub-contracts.
To help local businesses, support is available through local Growth Hubs, which are well placed to provide free advice across a number of related areas, including capital expenditure, application of innovative advanced technology, building information modelling, market development, and mentoring and coaching.
Businesses that want to find out more about the opportunities within the HS2 Supply Chain Programme, the eligibility criteria, how to apply, and the support and including funding available, should contact their local Growth Hub where they will receive free advice.
To find the relevant contact details visit http://www.lepnetwork.net/growth-hubs/. Full details of all HS2 opportunities are available via the CompeteFor portal https://www.competefor.com. Register at www.hvmcity.co.uk – this is a virtual platform highlighting procurement opportunities, supply chain capabilities and inward investment opportunities.
Lisa Hamilton is HS2 Project Manager at the West Midlands Combined Authority she can be reached at email@example.com and on 0121 303 3356