Written evidence from the Civil Engineering
Contractors Association (HSR 106)|
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)
was formed in 1996 to provide a single industry voice for civil
engineering contractors in the UK. With more than 300 member companies,
ranging from the largest international construction companies
in the industry to specialist SME suppliers operating at a regional
or local level, CECA represents those companies that are involved
in the construction and maintenance of the UK's transport and
Our members are estimated to deliver between 70 and
80 per cent of the total £20 billion of civil engineering
work carried out the UK annually. CECA members will be intimately
involved in the delivery of future nationally-significant infrastructure
such as the High Speed Rail network, and as such we are keen to
work closely with Government to ensure the delivery of future
project both on time and to budget.
CECA's stated policy on High Speed Rail, drafted
in November 2010 and agreed by the CECA Rail Forum and Transport
Committees, is as follows:
"CECA recognises the significant benefits
that can be delivered through the introduction of High Speed Rail
to some of the UK's largest conurbations."
"Such a network would contribute to growth.
In the short term it will provide a stimulus to the construction
sector, which represents a significant proportion of the UK's
economic output. In the longer term, an operational High Speed
Rail system will deliver improved journey times between UK cities,
reduce congestion from existing transport networks and encourage
the transfer of traffic from road to rail."
"However we are concerned about the business
case for High Speed Rail when compared with other forms of transport
investment. Current estimates for the London to Birmingham section
of HS2 suggest a funding requirement in the order of £11-13
billion. Were the full cost of such a proposal to be drawn from
public funding, it is likely that this would lead to shortfalls
in other areas of transport funding. As such it is essential that
any publically-funded High Speed Rail system first demonstrates
that it presents better value-for-money than if they same amount
of funding were to be directed towards traditional projects."
CECA REPONSES TO
CECA is unable to comment on every question the Select
Committee on Transport plans to address with regards to High Speed
Rail. However, points in response to the questions set CECA wishes
to raise are as follows:
For and Against High Speed RailCECA
believes that the implementation of a High Speed Rail Network
would, like other nationally-significant infrastructure projects,
act as a key driver to economic growth. The World Economic Forum's
Global Competitiveness Report places the overall quality of the
UK's railway infrastructure 19th out of 139 competitor countries,
and the overall quality of the UK's infrastructure a disappointing
33rd out of 139, despite its status as the world's 6th largest
In the short term, the implementation of High Speed
Rail would provide a much-needed boost to the UK's construction
sector, which has suffered disproportionately during the economic
downturn of the last three years. Furthermore, High Speed Rail
will deliver improved journey times between UK cities and reduce
congestion on the existing transport network.
However, CECA is concerned that should the funding
for High Speed Rail be drawn from the existing transport budget,
or from other sources of public funding, this will negatively
impact on other sectors of the UK's transport infrastructure that
require both continued maintenance and further investment. To
detract from existing investment infrastructure for the purpose
of building High Speed Rail would be detrimental to the UK's infrastructure
as a whole at a time when improving that infrastructure is both
stated Government policy and widely acknowledged to be crucial
to achieving the economic growth necessary to a secure recovery.
While achieving inter-urban connectivity will have
obvious economic benefits, to do so at the expense of other sectors
of the transport network, such as the strategic road network,
would undermine the Government's strategy of improving UK infrastructure
in a holistic manner.
Lessons to Learn from Other Major Transport ProjectsIt
is of vital importance that nationally significant infrastructure
projects be implemented in a consistent manner within a suitable
time-frame. By their very nature, infrastructure projects involve
large-scale works over large geographical areas, and must be implemented
over a longer time-frame than other construction projects. It
is of vital importance for the successful delivery of major infrastructure
projects that there is no unnecessary delay in the commissioning
and procurement process, and that civil engineering contractors
are enabled to deliver projects free from unnecessary regulations
Our organisations long experience in this area provides
us with a good understanding of the factors that make the difference
between success and failure when it comes to the delivery of major
infrastructure projects. Key points to consider include:
supply chain must have good visibility and confidence in the forward
work programme associated with delivery of the project. By providing
this, suppliers can invest in the skills, innovation and equipment
that will be required to deliver world class performance on the
project. Such visibility will include regular engagement with
the supply chain as early plans are developed, to allow industry
to challenge assumptions and identify potential risks and conflicts
before they have the chance to impact upon the project.
involvementHaving worked on similar
projects, UK suppliers can provide considerable expertise in the
development of projects as they move towards delivery on the ground.
Early appointment of supply chain teams will help secure the best
value solution to each element of the project.
capabilityit is essential that
for a project of the scale of High Speed 2, the expectations of
the quality of the finished product are matched by the capability
of those who will be required to manage delivery of the project.
Poor or unclear management represents one of the greatest risk
factors for major infrastructure projects.