Decision aims to ensure delayed line sticks to its opening schedule

A shake-up of contractor duties on HS2’s phase one route from London to Birmingham will see the EKFB joint venture replaced on part of the line by Align.

EKFB, consisting of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and Bam Nuttall, will transfer work in the North Chilterns area to Align, a JV between Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick.

Construction of the Colne Valley viaduct - part of HS2 C1 package delivered by Align JV

EKFB will be replaced by Align on parts of the railway in the North Chilterns

HS2 said it was “rebalancing” responsibilities on the line in an effort to streamline the central section of the railway, which has been hit be severe delays and construction cost hikes in the past year.

Building understands that EKFB will not be given any new responsibilities on the project.

A spokesperson for the railway said: “In order to streamline the delivery of the central section of HS2 we are rebalancing some responsibilities between two of our main works contractors.

“This will allow us to capitalise on the capabilities that Align has built during the delivery of the Chiltern Tunnel, and allow EKFB to focus on the core section of the route that needs to be complete in order to start testing and commissioning.”

It is understood the rejig is part of a phased management approach which will be implemented over the next six months. The decision is said to be programme driven and aims to ensure HS2 sticks to its programme so it can open to its original 2029-2033 schedule.

The first phase of the railway is now expected to cost around £44.6bn, including contingency costs, although an internal report leaked to the Financial Times last year found that the project only had a 50% chance of staying within budget.

Costs for the central London terminus at Euston, which was being built by Mace and Dragados, rose from £1.3 bn to nearly £5bn before the government mothballed the scheme in April.

The latest work to be put on ice is part of the route between the HS2 station at Birmingham Curzon Street and Handsacre in Staffordshire that is being built by BBV, a joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Vinci.

BBV staff were told last month to stop or not start work for a period of around two years.