Key £170m deal went to US firm CH2M but beaten rival has queried decision

HS2 is delaying formal award of a key contract on the scheme to US consultant CH2M as it prepares to sit down with Mace this week to explain why it overlooked the British firm.

HS2 Ltd, which is responsible for building the network, chose CH2M as the winner for the £170m development partner role on the second phase of the scheme earlier this month.

But beaten bidder Mace, which pitched for the scheme in a joint venture with Turner & Townsend, said it was considering going to the High Court to challenge the award.

The CH2M win caused controversy coming soon after HS2 Ltd’s appointment of CH2M European managing director Mark Thurston as its new chief executive last month.

Thurston is replacing interim HS2 Ltd chief executive Roy Hill, who was himself seconded to the client from CH2M and will return to the engineer.

Now HS2 officials will meet with senior staff from Mace, expected to include the firm’s executive in charge of major projects and infrastructure, Jason Millett, at the contractor’s Moorgate offices to discuss the award.

A HS2 spokesperson told Building: “We received a request for information from one of the bidders about the proposed award of the role of Development Partner for Phase Two B. It is important that all the bidders have confidence in the process and, as such, we have agreed to delay contract award while we meet with them to discuss the questions they have raised.”

The contract at the centre of the row is a seven year deal worth between £130m and £170m on the development of the high-speed line branching north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.

A Mace spokesperson said: “We can confirm that HS2 has invited us to a private meeting to discuss the Phase 2 B Delivery Partner procurement process. We welcome that HS2 have acknowledged the need for this meeting. We continue to review our options closely.”

Mace has previously worked with CH2M before when the pair, along with Laing O’Rourke, were appointed to be the delivery partner for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Mace spokesperson added: “We felt our experience working on the third runway at Heathrow, the London 2012 Olympics and Hinkley Point C, combined with our strong presence in the North of England, would have been an asset to successfully completing this important British project on time and within budget.”

T&T chief executive Vince Clancy told Building last week that the firm was not looking at challenging the award, adding that “we’re going to accept the fact that we were unsuccessful and move on”.

CH2M also won the £350m contract to be engineering delivery partner on phase one of the HS2 project last spring, in joint venture with Atkins and Spanish engineer Sener.

The scheme’s first phase was given Royal Assent last week with work expected to start this spring and this stretch of the route, from London to Birmingham, due to open in 2026.