Bechtel wins HS2 phase 2b contract after CH2M withdrawal

US firm Bechtel will deliver the £170m phase 2b development partner contract for HS2 that was previously being completed by CH2M, before they pulled out of the procurement process at the end of March after one of the losing bidders, Mace, threatened legal action against the procurement process.

Bechtel had come second in the original procurement process for a section of track covering construction of the Crewe to Manchester and West Midlands to Leeds lines and Mace, which is still considering its legal position and could still mount a legal challenge against the new contract award, came third.

A HS2 spokesman said: “HS2 Ltd can confirm that Bechtel are being taken forward to the next stage of the 2b Development Partner procurement process. The bidder now enters the standstill period allowed for under the process prior to contract award. Following discussions, we are confident they are able and prepared to deliver the contract on time, on budget and to a high standard.”

The Bechtel announcement coincided with transport secretary Chris Grayling and Sir David Higgins, non-executive chairman of HS2, being grilled by parliament’s transport select committee about flaws in the procurement for the phase 2b contract and the process around the award of a separate £10m commercial management services contract.

Select committee chair, Louise Ellman MP, said: “HS2 has the potential to deliver significant benefits. As with any investment of this size, however, it is essential that it is managed effectively. The withdrawal of CH2M from a major HS2 contract raises several questions which must be answered. We will be asking the secretary of state and Sir David Higgins to explain the circumstances behind CH2M's withdrawal and what lessons need to be learnt.”

The decision by HS2 to award the contract to Bechtel will allow it to avoid a costly re-running of the entire procurement process.

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