The enabling works of a project are often the most critical, but are also often overlooked. Not only do they prepare sites for major infrastructure development, importantly, they set the tone to the local community of the future work to come. However, they often occur with new teams coming together, and without the construction infrastructure and behaviours having been established. This has, on many projects, led to enabling works failing to deliver the client’s values, causing reputational problems throughout the main construction works.

As a leading company in the UK infrastructure arena, AECOM has developed an innovative delivery mechanism that gives a consistent, first-class service throughout the life cycle of the project. This helps deliver client’s values and goals in high-speed rail projects.

We are unique in having significant capability in environment consultancy, engineering design and construction management. This allows a seamless link to be established between these three elements, which have historically been disconnected. AECOM has worked on the environmental and engineering aspects of HS2 for over five years and has a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the scheme. Our consultants who worked on the environmental investigation and assessment are involved in the engineering design and its impact before they then move into the construction management teams.

AECOM has been advising on many environmental aspects of HS2, but of particular interest are the ecology and archaeology disciplines. Having investigated sections of the route we have established the type and location of existing flora, fauna and heritage sites. This information has been assessed in conjunction with the engineering design to understand the impact of the scheme, and to develop measures that protect and enhance the natural and historic environment. Some of these measures will require habitat removal and construction at new sites. We have the unique capability to lead all aspects of this, including construction management with the same staff being involved throughout.

This unique approach of allowing continuity of personnel through the life cycle of the project gives a number of advantages.

Firstly, the client’s values and behavioural expectations developed early in the process are seamlessly instilled in subsequent phases of the project. This also enhances safety as there is clarity to expectations and processes.

Secondly, the background and understanding gained in earlier parts of the development is not lost and allows for the meaningful challenge of potential solutions throughout. This is particularly important during construction where the work progress circumstances can change.

Thirdly, it develops our staff. They see how decisions made throughout the investigation, assessment, design and construction phases are interdependent, and part of delivering a coherent solution. This ultimately improves their capabilities to deliver solutions within their specialisations.

Finally, the consistency of personnel allows a network to be established that allows collaboration with small medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the development cycle, enhancing the local economy.

The combining of three previously separate elements in the construction industry gives an innovative solution that delivers a first-class result to the critical enabling works element of construction.