The redevelopment of London Bridge Station will meet growing transport needs by increasing both passenger and rail capacity at the station by 40 percent, taking passenger capacity from around 50 million to 75 million. High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) held a focus group event here recently, inviting a number of senior representatives from SME’s locally to take part in discussions designed to explore their role in the delivery of high speed rail. The session was hosted by Costain, who is the main contractor on the London Bridge Redevelopment, and a member of HSRIL.

Using the London Bridge Redevelopment project and Crossrail as examples, the discussions focused on the importance of building the right relationships and confidence within the supply chain to ensure that HS2 really is a catalyst for growth, and supports the development of local and national economies.

IMG_0567 IMG_0575Kate Chambers from Pontoonworks said: “I thought it was a great focal meeting. The conversations highlighted so many opportunities for the industry, especially for apprentices and the creation of so many jobs within the infrastructure sector. I also thought the focus on quality rather than price in terms of what will be the “overriding factor” was a great analogy which will contribute to the success of this project”.

Discussions focused on the vital contribution that the wider supply chain will bring in terms of innovation, experience and delivery capability.  Conversations also covered the importance of upskilling in readiness for the project, and the challenge to deliver apprenticeship targets, in light of recent announcements from government.

Tom McArthur from The Ecology Consultancy said “the HSRIL discussions really helped focus on the possible skills shortage and the implications on my business and the ecological consultancy industry. While this could easily have been a negative conversation I was encouraged to hear from the more experienced attendees that these same issues have arisen several times through their careers. More importantly their more practical advice to reduce the risk on our company’s future – training existing and graduate staff early and well – is exactly what we are embarking on. We are establishing an internal training academy, a framework to make all staff, both new and old, as well equipped to be the next generation of ecological leaders and importantly to cope with what HS2 and other comparable scaled projects will throw at us. The project is a significant investment for our relatively small company so to hear from other industry leaders that we are on the right path is exceptionally reassuring and pleasing. Now for the hard work…!”

After the session, participants were given the opportunity of a site tour, highlighting the scale and complexity of the country’s biggest rail redevelopment projects.

These discussions form part of a wider programme of activity from HSRIL designed to support the development of a wide and competent supply chain. Our latest report outlines findings from the first set of discussions in this programme: High Speed Rail – grasping the opportunity