Home General Interest HS2 opens procurement competition for suppliers of slab track.

HS2 opens procurement competition for suppliers of slab track.

With the Prime Minister having announced the decision to go ahead with HS2, the first trail systems procurement competition has commenced.

Four new contract opportunities cover the design and build of the complex track systems between London, Birmingham and Crewe, where HS2 trains will join the existing West Coast Mainline. The winners will also take a lead role in managing and coordinating the complex interfaces between the track and other elements of the rail systems.

Four separate track packages will be awarded:

  • Lot 1 – Phase One (Urban – London and Birmingham) – £434m
  • Lot 2 – Phase One (Open Route – Central) – £526m
  • Lot 3 – Phase One (Open Route -North) – £566m
  • Lot 4 – Track – Phase 2a – £431m

In order to reduce long term costs and improve performance, the track will be set onto concrete slabs instead of the ballast commonly used on the UK rail network. This approach – known as slab track – is commonly used on metro systems and some international high-speed rail lines and will allow for a higher frequency of service with less maintenance.

The winning bidders will also be responsible for the design, installation and testing of switches and crossings, managing construction logistics and co-ordination, and supporting the testing and commissioning phase. They will also act as Construction Design and Management (CDM) Principal Contractor for the trace and be responsible for logistics and consents co-ordination.

Shortlists for track are expected towards the end of the year, with contract awards in 2022.

The start of the formal procurement process for this first set of rail systems contracts marks an important new phase in the HS2 project, with the winning bidders set to arrive on site once the tunnels, bridges, viaducts and earthworks are complete.

Procurement and commercial director David Poole said: “Rail systems are some of the most important parts of the HS2 project – the high tech equipment and systems that will allow our trains to deliver an unparalleled service in terms of speed, frequency and reliability.

“The launch of this new procurement contest is an important milestone for the project, and a significant opportunity for the industry and the wider supply chain. At the peak of construction, HS2 will support around 30,000 jobs and contracts like this will provide a real boost for employers across the supply chain, helping to boost skills and provide opportunities for years to come.”

Contracts covering rail, switches and crossings and pre-cast slab track systems will be awarded separately – with the track systems suppliers coordinating the design and installation. Six more sets of rail systems contracts are due to be launched later in the year, covering signalling, the overhead catenary that will provide power to the trains, mechanical and electrical systems, high voltage power supplies, communications systems and the depot and control centre at Washwood Heath in Birmingham.

Nigel Wordsworth BSc(Hons) MCIJhttp://therailengineer.com

SPECIALIST AREAS Rolling stock, mechanical equipment, project reports, executive interviews


Nigel Wordsworth graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University, after which he joined the American aerospace and industrial fastener group SPS Technologies. After a short time at the research laboratories in Pennsylvania, USA, Nigel became responsible for applications engineering to industry in the UK and Western Europe. At this time he advised on various engineering projects, from Formula 1 to machine tools, including a particularly problematic area of bogie design for the HST.

A move to the power generation and offshore oil supply sector followed as Nigel became director of Entwistle-Sandiacre, a subsidiary of the Australian-owned group Aurora plc. At the same time, Nigel spent ten years as a Technical Commissioner with the RAC Motor Sports Association, responsible for drafting and enforcing technical regulations for national and international motor racing series.

Joining Rail Engineer in 2008, Nigel’s first assignment was a report on new three-dimensional mobile mapping and surveying equipment, swiftly followed by a look at vegetation control machinery. He continues to write on a variety of topics for most issues.

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