Construction News has reported that HS2 Ltd have dismissed a prediction from Construction Products Association, that building work on the project will start two years late, not beginning until 2020.
In its’ summer industry forecast, the CPA cited “concerns regarding planning and financing” as reasons why it does not think main civil engineering works will start for five years, along with people affected by HS2 also potentially causing “delays through appeals”. These concerns echo those raised in previous reports from the Governments’ own Major Projects Authority.
In their press release, the CPA’s economics director Dr Noble Francis warned:
“The government has a National Infrastructure Plan in place with a pipeline of projects across the UK worth £411 billion. As a consequence, we forecast that infrastructure output will experience double-digit growth each year to the end of our forecast horizon in 2019. It’s not all good news, however, as yet again we expect delays until 2018 for the main works on the nuclear power station Hinkley Point C. In addition, due to concerns regarding planning and financing, we do not anticipate main works starting on HS2 before 2020.”
Dr Francis told Construction News:
“When you look at major rail infrastructure, there is usually a significant period of time before projects get off the ground. Thameslink was originally the Thameslink 2000, Crossrail was given the green light in 1990. You won’t see those sort of delays to this project, but when we are talking about major infrastructure, we as forecasters have to forecast a degree later than officially stated.”
HS2 spokesman Richard Pain dismissed these concerns, saying: “Successful planning is the key to most major projects remaining on schedule. Following a resounding backing from parliament at the second reading of the hybrid bill for HS2 Phase 1, we remain confident that the main construction of HS2 will start in 2017, with civils work to begin in 2018.”
He added: “Substantive design work, surveying and ground investigations along the entire route of HS2 Phase 1 is already underway and, following on from extensive industry communication and supply chain engagement work, we plan to start the procurement process for civils contracts this autumn.”
The fact HS2 Ltd intend to start a £7bn procurement process soon, at least a year before the project would receive full Parliamentary approval was recently slammed by the Stop HS2 campaign as “An attempt to blow as much cash as possible to try and make the project impossible to cancel.”
Responding to the CPA report, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“As the current schedule for HS2 construction is already two years behind the original timetable, adding another two or three years would be no surprise to us. There have been concerns since the start that HS2 would be late and over budget, but despite the fact it is already late and over budget, HS2 Ltd always dismiss anyone who criticises their competence, no matter how expert and impartial they are. The thing is, it always turns out those impartial experts were right and HS2 Ltd were wrong.”
“The current consultation on changes to HS2 was meant to have concluded by now, but has been extended because of a multitude of errors. This, continual amber-red ratings from the Major Projects Authority, and facts such as there still being no design for Euston Station, clearly indicate that HS2 Ltd are getting even further behind. The other thing which everyone has to remember is that the further HS2 falls behind schedule, the more the 2011 based £50bn cost will go up.”