The formal award of a £170m contract relating to the construction of the high speed rail line from Crewe to Manchester has been delayed, after complaints over the procurement process from underbidder Mace.
The design contracts relating to the development of high speed rail from Crewe to Manchester, and from the West Midlands to Yorkshire were awarded last month, with CH2M selected as the £170m phase 2B development partner.
However, the appointment of CH2M raised eyebrows across the construction industry, as the announcement came two weeks after HS2 selected CH2M’s European managing director Mark Thurston to be its new chief executive. Thurston will take over from interim chief executive Roy Hill in the spring. Hill was also on secondment from CH2M.
The contract with CH2M was set to be signed on Friday. It is understood that HS2 bosses are due to meet with representatives from Mace to discuss their concerns later this week.
The £170m contract is part of £520m of work awarded in January, including three other contracts relating to engineering and environmental support given to Arup, a joint venture between AECOM, Capita and INECO, and a Mott MacDonald and WSP partnership.
An HS2 spokesperson said: “We can confirm we have received a request for information from one of the bidders about the proposed award of the role of development partner for phase 2B. It is important that all the bidders have confidence in the process and, as such, we have agreed to delay contract award while we meet with them to discuss the questions they have raised.”
A Mace spokesperson said: “We can confirm that HS2 has invited us to a private meeting to discuss the Phase 2B delivery partner procurement process. We welcome that HS2 have acknowledged the need for this meeting. We continue to review our options closely.”
The Government gave the go ahead for the sections of the route, between Crewe and Manchester, and Birmingham and Leeds, via Sheffield and the East Midlands, subject to some specific route refinements which are under consultation, in November last year.
The first phase of HS2, from London to Birmingham, was granted Royal Assent last week.
The dedicated high speed lines are planned to open in 2033.
CH2M was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Place North West this morning.