Bechtel replaces CH2M on HS2 second phase

HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins told MPs that the procurement process for the £55.7 billion railway will now be more intrusive

HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins told MPs that the procurement process for the £55.7 billion railway will now be more intrusive

HS2 has confirmed that American construction and engineering giant Bechtel has been appointed as the development partner for the second phase of the high speed rail line, taking over the role initially awarded to CH2M.

The standstill period will now last for two weeks before the contract is officially signed by Bechtel.

Losing bidder Mace had taken legal advice and called for the procurement process to be re-run. CH2M has also been HS2's development partner for phase 1 of the project since 2012 under a £350m contract.

"The withdrawal of CH2M from a major HS2 contract raises several questions which must be answered".

The contract is for the construction of two lines, from Crewe to Manchester and from West Midlands to Leeds.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins will be questioned about the issue by the Commons' Transport Select Committee on Wednesday.

CH2M had been preferred but it withdrew last month following controversy about conflicts of interest and probity of process, given the close connections between CH2M and the HS2 organisation.

The concerns were understood to revolve around the appointment of CH2M highways director Roy Hill as interim chief executive of HS2 - on secondment from the USA engineering firm - and the appointment of CH2M European managing director Mark Thurston as its permanent chief executive.

Construction News also revealed that HS2 was understood to be looking into the part played by former HS2 chief of staff Christopher Reynolds in the United States engineering giant's tender for the deal.

An HS2 spokesperson told RTM: "HS2 Ltd can confirm that Bechtel are being taken forward to the next stage of the 2b development partner procurement process. Following discussions, we are confident they are able and prepared to deliver the contract on time, on budget, and to a high standard".