The UK's planned new high-speed rail line (HS2) will link London with Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds

The UK's planned new high-speed rail line (HS2) will link London with Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

Three companies – the UK’s Carillion and Kier, along with France’s Eiffage – have announced a joint venture partnership to support the delivery of the UK’s High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project.

They say the joint venture brings together three companies with “outstanding expertise in the design, construction, operation, financing and maintenance of railway networks in Europe, particularly high speed rail systems and their associated infrastructure”.

This month, the UK Parliament announced a debate on updated plans for building HS 2, the high speed railway connecting London with Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

A motion was laid in Parliament instructing the HS2 Select Committee to consider more than 120 changes the government wishes to make to the HS2 hybrid Bill. These amendments are the result of discussions between HS2 Ltd and communities along the route from London to Birmingham.

The government said the hybrid Bill remained on track to achieve Royal Assent by the end of 2016.

Carillion claimed to have delivered numerous major rail infrastructure projects and managed several long-term rail maintenance contracts in the UK, including the construction and maintenance of Channel Tunnel Rail Link (High Speed 1).

Carillion is also delivering substantial elements of the electrification and track renewals programmes across the UK network, as well as infrastructure associated with the London Crossrail project and Reading Station redevelopment in Berkshire.

Eiffage said that following on from its role in the consortium that built the Perpignan, France, to Figueras, Spain, high-speed rail project, it was currently working on a €3 billion public-private partnership project to design, build, finance and maintain France’s Bretagne to Pays de la Loire HSR link. This is scheduled for completion in May 2017.

Kier is a major delivery partner on the £16 billion (€22.52 billion) Crossrail project, Europe’s biggest current rail project, and has also delivered a wide range of major infrastructure projects across the UK.

The company is currently constructing the new £450 million (€633.39 million) six-lane toll bridge over the River Mersey, as part of the Mersey Gateway scheme in the north west of England, and is delivering the site preparation works at the £24.5 billion Hinkley Point C project in Somerset.

Carillion chief executive, Richard Howson, said, “We are delighted to announce the formation of this new joint venture that brings together three companies with world-class skills and resources, and an absolute focus on safety and quality, which will be required for the successful delivery of the High Speed 2 programme.”

Eiffage chairman and CEO Pierre Berger said, “Eiffage is looking forward to working with our UK partners, Carillion and Kier, bringing the latest design and construction expertise from continental Europe to support the successful delivery of this new High Speed Rail route that will stimulate growth in the UK economy in the way similar schemes are in Europe.”

Haydn Mursell, chief executive of Kier, pointed out that the UK government had signalled its ongoing commitment to the project in the recent Queen’s Speech and with the revisions to the HS2 launch Bill.

“The formation of this joint venture is well timed to respond to the progression of what will be the country’s largest infrastructure project to date,” he said.

Shortlisted contenders for the first set of tenders are expected to be invited to pre-qualify in September 2015.

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