Howard Chapman

Full speed ahead for HS2 or should it be stopped in its tracks?

  • 25 Sep 2015

As land is already being prepared around Crewe for the home of HS2, China is being asked to join UK bidders for the first £11.8bn of contracts.

Phase 1 construction of HS2 could begin in 2017. This will construct the line to cut travel time between London and Birmingham from 81 minutes to 49 minutes.

The CIOB reported on Chancellor George Osborne’s visit to Chengdu, China, to officially open the bidding process for this hugely controversial mega infrastructure project.

A ‘HS2 partnering day’ for British and Chinese firms will explore teaming up on bids for contracts, not least because China has vast experience in building a high-speed rail network, including more than 10,000km in less than 10 years. That’s more than the entire European Union network – and at less than two-thirds the cost. More here on why China can build high speed rail so cheaply.

But not everyone believes HS2 should go ahead.

For example, Penny Gaines, from the pressure group ‘Stop HS2’, laments that “Far from HS2 being good for British business, it looks like the Chancellor is turning it into a way of diverting British taxpayers’ money to the coffers of Chinese construction firms”.

I would like to offer this opportunity for you to comment on HS2. Should we welcome help in fast-tracking HS2 or should it be stopped in its tracks?

2 comments on “Full speed ahead for HS2 or should it be stopped in its tracks?

  • Comments from Alasdair Reisner chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, writing in Construction News

    So is this the beginning of the great Chinese takeaway? Are the UK’s hardworking contractors going to be edged out in favour of lower-cost bidders from halfway round the world? I’m not so sure. For one, the very fact that this offer was made as the contracts were being opened for bidding suggests Chinese firms would have to get their skates on if they want to pitch for the work. In the past two years we have seen many companies from around the UK and Europe confirm their interest in HS2. Yet there has been almost nothing from potential Chinese bidders.

    It has been argued that the UK would need Chinese contractors given their extensive experience in high-speed rail at home. While it is true that China has been the dominant player in this market in recent years, it is not the case that the consortia preparing to enter the fray are without any knowledge. Our UK contractors have teamed up with European colleagues that will bring extensive high-speed experience with them across the Channel.

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