30 January 2014 | Will Green
The chief buyer behind the HS2 rail project says the amount of preparatory work that has gone into the procurement strategy makes it their "best shot".
Beth West, commercial director for HS2, told SM innovations such as a supply chain conference for potential suppliers and the level of discussion with the market and experts involved in previous infrastructure projects were unprecedented.
West said consultations had those involved in the London Olympics, HS1 and Crossrail, as well as Formula 1 and the automotive sector.
“We think there’s a whole heap of good stuff that companies are doing that doesn’t normally get applied to rail,” she said.
Construction on phase one of the scheme, costing £17.16 billion, is expected to begin in 2017 and West said the organisation plans to launch a procurement strategy in the summer.
“We have a good range of people who have been involved in coming up with this. This is our best shot,” she said.
The strategy is expected to involve splitting the main construction work into around 16 to 20 “packages”, covering areas such as track and rolling stock, and conversations with suppliers have involved deciding how those packages interact with each other.
“We have to look at where are the most appropriate places to put interfaces, and that impacts on packaging strategy,” she said. “We’ve had massively positive feedback in the way we have approached the market because we have gone out so early.”
West said the political controversy around HS2 and the level of media scrutiny made life difficult for her because it added a level of risk for suppliers.
“It creates a level of uncertainty for suppliers; they don’t know how to react to us,” she said. “For me it’s incredibly frustrating when there are degrees of political uncertainty because it doesn’t get me the right outcome with suppliers, because they’re not getting ready.”
☛ A full interview with Beth West will appear in an upcoming edition of Supply Management