HS2: £170m contract scrapped after 'conflict of interest' row

Artists Impression of how HS2 might look

Artists Impression of how HS2 might look

0
Have your say

A top director of HS2 has dropped out after accusations of cronyism, after a contract was handed to a company with close ties to senior HS2 executives.

A top director of HS2 has dropped out over claims that a contract was handed to a company with close ties to senior HS2 executives.

According to reports circulated nationally questions were raised about HS2's suitability to take on the high speed rail project as one of their top bosses walked out amid a conflict of interest scandal.

Director General David Prout quit just hours after a £170 million contract to build part of the track was pulled because it had been awarded to a company with close ties to senior HS2 execs.

HS2 Ltd — the Government funded company building the new rail network connecting London and Birmingham — last month chose CH2M to deliver two stretches of the new high speed line.

CH2M's £170m contract was to develop Phase 2b, namely stretches from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds.

Mace, an engineering firm that lost the bidding for the contract, had threatened legal action after pointing out that Mark Thurston, HS2’s new chief executive, was a former CH2M employee — as was his predecessor, Roy Hill, who had filled the role on a temporary basis.


In a statement, CH2M said it had “provided formal notice to HS2 Ltd that we are withdrawing our interest in the HS2 Phase 2b contract”.

It added: “CH2M has demonstrated all appropriate measures taken throughout to ensure the integrity of the procurement process. “Notwithstanding these efforts, we have taken the decision to alleviate any further delays to this critical national infrastructure project which could ultimately lead to increasing costs to UK taxpayers, as well as to our firm.”

HS2 Ltd said: “As they have announced, CH2M have decided to withdraw from the phase 2b development partner bid process, a decision which we welcome.”

The Stop HS2 campaign described CH2M’s announcement as “clearly an admission of guilt over conflict of interest.”

“They hope doing this now - at a good time to bury bad news - means their other contract awards will not be investigated,” they added.

The Department For Transport insisted the issue was “a matter for HS2 Ltd.”

But they warned: “There are strict rules around procurement and we expect all proper procedures to be followed.”