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Contractors World  - UK & Ireland
2014 Vol 4 No 1

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By Kevin Minton, Director CPA.HS2 could equate to more than £200 million of Plant Hire

By Kevin Minton, Director CPA.

The debate around HS2 is only exceeded by the scale of the project: phase 1 to Birmingham will create 140 miles of new railway track, and effectively four new stations. The cost of phase 1 is estimated at £17bn, of which construction is around £10bn. That probably equates to some £200+ million of plant hire.

A number of key themes have already emerged from HS2 Ltd – including planning. Frequent mention is made of BIM, or rather of AIM – asset information (or integrity) management. Ray O’Rourke updated the old “measure it twice, cut it once” aphorism by saying “build it twice in digital, once in the field”.

Modern methods of construction will be fully explored, with an emphasis on building off-site whenever possible.HS2

One thing that can’t be done offsite, however, is earthmoving - around 60 million m³ of muck will need to be shifted, and as current HS2 Chairman Doug Oakervee acknowledged at the recent supply chain conference, earthmoving machine capacity issues will need long term planning.

Technology to play important role

Thames Hub © Norman FosterAnother theme that can resonate with progressive plant hire companies is innovation.

HS2 Technical Director Professor Andrew McNaughton quoted the example of the excavator equipped with GPS, which was able to create an accurate gradient without tedious marking out.

Given the HS2 design’s preference for landscape integrity – that is, blending the route into the landscape with rounded embankments, cuttings and other forms that look natural rather than drawn with a straightedge - a company that can supply this capability will have the edge. Or maybe that should be better described as “be ahead of the curve”.

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