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HS2 - Construction Peer Reviews

23 November 2020

Is HS2 leading the way in capturing the talent and capability of the construction industry and so reducing project risk?

No, stop thinking about burning seaside structures and think of all the talent and capability possessed in the construction industry.

Currently we have a mainly traditional project procurement model where contractors and consultants are individually appointed via competitive procurement. Thus the potential exists for limitations on expertise and engagement time.

HS2 Limited has introduced a new process in its procurement of the new high speed north / south rail link which could really add some value, especially on larger projects.

It is investing £5M in independent technical expert panels (ITEPs). These ITEPs will be used to:

"provide an additional level of technical assurance, advise on any technical decisions HS2 needs to make in respect of the design and/or risk management and problem solve where particularly complex technical issues arise."

The panels will also be required to challenge excessive conservatism in design, identify any issues that could lead to fatal flaws or any unidentified risks; and confirm that risk mitigations are appropriate and that any residual risks are acceptable.

The introduction of ITEPs appear to be an absolute 'no brainer', a £5m investment on a project of £10's bn to reduce risk and solve problems. Remember Crossrail has overspent by £1bn.

As PI insurance premiums increase significantly and alternatives such as project insurance (where all the project participants are covered by a project policy) are considered, ITEPs could be the basis of working to significantly reduce construction claims in construction.

However I would suggest this initiative should not be restricted to technical peer reviews. Why not also utilise peer reviews for:

  • Main contractors.
  • Significant sub-contractors.
  • Significant material suppliers.

And maintain the reviews through the total project life including construction and operation.

The investment reward of harnessing the talent and capability of the wider industry must be a worthwhile target for construction clients, insurers and insureds alike.

Further Reading