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H2S Supply Chain UK Roadshow

The HS2 Supply Chain Roadshow rolled into Leicester this week. Hosted at the King Power Stadium, the HS2 team were in force to inform local businesses about the opportunities available to get involved in the creation of HS2. Leicester was the second of ten planned events up and down the UK between now and July 7th with a further event to be hosted in Aberdeen in September.

For those of you not aware, High Speed 2 (HS2) will be the largest infrastructure project in the UK for many years. It will be a £55bn project, expected to take 20 years to complete over 2 phases. When completed, it will provide the UK with a High Speed Rail Network, drastically shortening journey times between London and Leeds & Manchester in the North.

It's expected that HS2 will create in excess of 25,000 jobs within the construction industry alone. This will include 2,000 apprenticeships.

It was an informative morning and below is a summary of some of the key points raised:


Working Directly with HS2

 HS2 made it very clear that they wanted to minimise the number of Tier 1 suppliers working directly with them on the project. Only tens of contracts will be awarded directly to work with HS2 as a Tier 1 supplier. Therefore the packages of work tendered will be extremely high in value in the most part. Hence why many of the contractors tendering for work on the project at present are consortiums made up typically of 2 or 3 reputable main contractors.

Most of the opportunities for SME's will come as Tier 2 or 3 suppliers, of which there are estimated to be over 10,000 opportunities to every 10 Tier 1 supplier awarded. This will include everything from specialist sub-contractors down to services like ourselves in Recruitment.

It was recommended that potential Tier 2 and later suppliers should begin to make contact with potential Tier 1 suppliers about their services as soon as possible if they haven't already done so.

Major Contracts Being Tendered

There are 6 major contracts relating to the construction of HS2 Phase 1. Many of these will be split into packages based on location or specialties. For example the Main Works and Civils contracts are split into 7 sections of the line between London and Birmingham, with contractors only able to tender for a maximum of 4 packages (of which I'm informed most are tendering for the maximum of 4). The major contracts are:

  • Design & Professional Services
  • Enabling Works
  • Main works and Civils Contracts
  • Stations
  • Railway Systems
  • Rolling Stock

When Will HS2 Be Buying?

It's important to point out that HS2 has not yet had the official green light to start construction. They are constantly liaising with Government and local communities at present to get planning permission on all parts of the line, which has been a timely process. However they hope to have the official sign off by the end of this year and we should see the first shovel in the ground either late this year or early next year.

However, HS2 will 100% be going ahead and below is a rough timescale as to the status of the various contracts up for tender for Phase 1 of the project between London and Birmingham.


Current Stage

Awarded By

Expected Completion

Design & Professional Services



Q4 2026

Enabling Works


Q3 2016

Q1 2019

Main Works & Civils Contracts


Q2 2017

Q1 2025




Q1 2025

Railway Systems



Q1 2026

Rolling Stock



Q4 2026

We were informed that HS2 has not yet finalised their plans on how the Railway Systems contracts will be packaged up, therefore at this stage, we have no information on timescales for tendering on these packages.

Likewise, there is currently no consensus on which type of Rolling Stock will be used on the HS2 line and given the challenges they have to design and manufacture Rolling Stock that will stand the test of time and still be relevant in 2026 when we will first see operational trains, I'd hazard a guess this it could be several years before this package is awarded.

Culture of HS2

A large proportion of this presentation was spent discussing the culture of HS2. There were several buzz words that were used again and again and it was made quite clear that suppliers wanting to work with HS2 must be aligned with HS2 in the goals and culture for delivering this project.

  • Sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Environment
  • Health & Safety
  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
  • BIM
  • Integration
  • Legacy
  • Transparency

It was clear, that if you want to get on board with HS2, your company must be a leader and an innovator in the above. We were told that having policies on these issues would not be enough and that HS2 would be looking for examples of innovative ways that companies are striving to work towards this culture.

We were informed that this culture must run throughout this project, down to the Tier 2, 3, 4 & 5 suppliers.

National College For High Speed Rail

It was widely recognised that to deliver HS2, the UK will need to address the technical skills shortage we are currently experiencing at present. HS2 plan to help leave a legacy by providing circa 2,000 Apprenticeships on HS2. If you have sons and daughters at school at present and wanting to go into construction, HS2 could give them a fantastic start to their career in construction.

HS2 are currently in the process of building 2 campus building that will make up the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR). The construction of these campuses is already underway and are situated in Birmingham and Doncaster respectively.

NCHSR is expected to provide post 18 education and will help to provide the higher technical skills required to build HS2 and upgrade the UK transport network. It will offer new technical and professional pathways to people who are starting a career in transport infrastructure or looking to switch careers as well as helping to upskill the current workforce.

It will offer advanced apprenticeships, training and qualifications in railway technology and management.


It was announced that HS2 have been mandated by Government to use BIM Level 2 throughout the process to record data for this project. HS2 will be the largest infrastructure project in the UK to ever use BIM Level 2 from the design stage of a project through to completion. Crossrail were using BIM to an extent throughout its construction, however BIM was not readily not readily used whilst Crossrail was being designed and the early stages of its construction.

With so many contractors involved in such a huge project, it swill be a challenge to get all parties providing the necessary data in the correct form to use BIM to level 2 accurately. Hence why one of the buzz words used earlier was 'Collaboration', and HS2 are really hoping a collaborative approach to the construction of HS2 will allow this to be possible.

Numerous audience members did relay scepticism as to how realistic this was and highlighted numerous potential relating to using BIM. One of which was the lack of professionals in the UK that actually understood how to use BIM. HS2 were committed to helping companies understand BIM and have set up educational material on their web-site to assist with this issue.

However, there is no doubt that the UK and HS2 will be in need of professionals who understand BIM and are trained in its use and how to record and input the necessary data to use BIM effectively.


That summarises some of the most important and interesting information I came away with from the Roadshow. HS2 is coming and we will likely see the ground broken on this project by the end of this year or early next year, should things go to plan.

It's going to be hugely positive for the UK construction industry over the next 20 years and provided over 25,000 jobs.

With Maxim Recruitment's excellent track record of recruiting on major rail projects throughout the World we expect to be heavily involved in providing the very best rail professionals on the planet to help create this mega project.

As a reminder of the Rail Projects Maxim Recruitment has recruited for over the past decade:

I hope you've found the information useful and if you'd like to visit the Roadshow, there are still dates and venues they will be attending up until September. Please check their web-site for details: HS2 Supply China Regional Roadshow 2016



Stuart Hackett
Senior Recruitment Consultant – UK & Middle East

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