Contractors are praised for sticking to HS2 budget and deadlines

The government has praised construction workers for keeping HS2 ‘on time and on budget’ despite significant pressures on the workforce and the economy.

Talk to NC During a visit to the project site in Colne Valley, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said the contractors had “stepped up to the challenge” to ensure work continued to progress well amid the current shortage skills and rising inflation.

Stephenson stressed that it was a “top priority” for the government to see the project hit budget, adding that programs such as HS2 were key to attracting “new blood” to the sector.

Minister’s praise for industry follows NC reporting earlier this month that construction companies paid record bonuses in March to retain workers amid major shortages.

Describing his excitement at the start of work on the Colne Valley Viaduct and the efforts of the construction crews, Stephenson said: “We are all aware of the inflation in the construction industry and the difficulties in recruiting an appropriate number of workers qualified, [which] will add new pressures.

“However, I’m happy to say that all of our construction partners seem to be up to the challenge, embracing innovation and adopting different ways of working to ensure that we always deliver this project on time and on budget.

“I was really encouraged by how our building partners rose to the challenge.”

Stephenson added that the excitement around large-scale projects such as HS2 was helping to attract people into the construction workforce and he said it was important the sector continued to diversify its workforce. work.

“During the site visits, I met JCB drivers who were social workers. I met someone who was an airline pilot. All kinds of people have changed careers to work on the HS2 program, and through things like apprenticeships, we’re also making sure to bring new blood into the industry.

“We are expanding the number of opportunities we offer people from ethnic minorities or women to work on the program. And I think that’s for the good of the construction industry, because we need to recruit people from a variety of backgrounds.

In March, Stephenson reported to the government that HS2 “remains on budget and on schedule” in delivering the first phase of the project. during a semi-annual update – confirming that the overall Phase One budget remained at £44.6bn. But he admitted that HS2 Ltd had already drawn £1.3billion from its £5.6billion delegated contingency.

Last week, MPs urged the government to provide the construction sector with stronger guidance to ensure the UK hits its net zero targets.

Stephenson said NC on the role of contractors so far in reducing HS2’s carbon footprint, saying: “Time and time again we see contractors pushing the boundaries of what has been done before and using innovation to reduce the amount of carbon embedded in this structure.

“I hope HS2 will be the kind of project that will change the construction industry for [the] better and helps the construction sector to decarbonize more broadly.

Alice F. Ponder