Firms urged to get in on ‘game-changer’ infrastructure project

Northern Ireland’s construction industry has been urged to bid for its share of one of the biggest infrastructure projects ever planned in the UK.

Up to £1 billion worth of contracts are available on the rail project High Speed Two (HS2) as officials behind the project explained in a seminar in Belfast designed to highlight the opportunities available during phase one of the massive project.

HS2 Ltd, a company wholly owned by the UK Department for Transport, is developing and promoting Britain’s new high speed rail network between London and Birmingham and on to Manchester and Leeds.

Speaking at the event hosted by Invest NI in conjunction with HS2 Ltd, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: “The turnout at today’s event shows an encouraging interest from our construction and civil engineering sectors in finding out more about Britain’s largest ever infrastructure project, HS2.

“HS2 is an extremely significant investment in rail infrastructure that offers excellent supply chain prospects for local companies here and our aim is to assist these companies as much as possible to become involved with the project.

“Northern Ireland companies have already shown, through London 2012 and Crossrail that they have the skills required to build first class infrastructure.”

Mr Bell said events like this had previously proved successful with a meet the buyer events for Crossrail generating more than £1 million of orders with local firms.

“Our manufacturing, construction and civil engineering companies have considerable expertise and a track record of delivering excellent service and products which will not only add value to the HS2 project but also help create economic benefits for the whole of Northern Ireland.”

Work on Phase One of HS2, between London and Birmingham, is scheduled to start in 2017 and during construction will create up to 15,000 construction jobs and 2,200 permanent maintenance jobs.

HS2 Ltd Commercial Director Beth West, who is also keen to see Northern Ireland companies bid for the opportunities available, said: “Building HS2 is a massive long-term project, one that offers a huge opportunity for Northern Ireland companies to bid for billions of pounds worth of contracts to deliver HS2, which will boost jobs and skills across Northern Ireland.

“To deliver a project of HS2’s scale and complexity requires the right companies with the right skills.

“I’m extremely pleased that so many local firms have already shown an interest and I’d like to encourage all Northern Ireland businesses large or small to get involved with HS2.

“Put simply, HS2 offers a rare opportunity to secure a step-change in Britain’s competitiveness, whilst promoting economic growth, creating thousands of jobs and driving regeneration.”