HS2 Ltd. has shortlisted a subsidiary of China’s state-owned giant railway group for the £300m jobs to install the overhead catenary system powering trains to operate at 360km/hr.
The Chinese subsidiary which is China Railway Electrification Engineering Group Co, is competing with rival bidders; Colas Rail; Balfour Beatty; and Rapide JV – a consortium of SPL Powerlines UK/INEO/Keltbray.
It comes just a month after an essential Turkish specialist rail contractor made the final three companies for HS2’s £275m network control center and rolling stock maintenance depot in Washwood Heath, Birmingham.
The activities have brought up the concern that HS2, which has so far trumpeted the number of orders placed with established UK-presence contractors, is casting its net further afield for cost savings.
One member explained to the Enquirer: “It seems a little odd that for one of the last activities on this phase of HS2, the client would bring in bidder like a state-owned Chines railway group.
“No UK presence or experience and I would imagine no experience of the SNCF OCS system.”
The company that wins the £300m overhead power systems package, is going to be responsible for extra stages of design plus manufacture, supply, installation, testing, and commissioning of the systems.
HS2 will use the V360 OCS design range under license from SNCF Reseau – the first system in Europe to be certified for speeds of up to 360km/h.
The license agreement enables the OCS contractor to go to the components market and search for the most competitive supplier, primarily hailed as a way of opening up opportunities for smaller suppliers across the UK.
The member stated: “Surely the superficial allure of trying a Chinese solution would be a loss leader price on the major civils to cut the overall project costs rather than on the smaller scale technical works.”