High Speed 2

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a new high speed rail network connecting London and Birmingham. It will create new jobs, drive the development of innovative and sustainable solutions within a major project environment and improve the skills and employability of a generation of new apprentices.

Significant parts of the UK transport network are full to capacity making it difficult for people, goods and services to move efficiently around the country and beyond. HS2 will help ease pressure on national transport networks, bringing the country together.

Delivering a new railway safely, on time, and to budget whilst integrating it with the existing rail network and being sensitive to local communities and their environment is a significant challenge.

Nichols led the Project Assessment Review of the £27bn Phase 1 route from Euston to Birmingham.  Our work was a critical element in providing assurance to the Secretary of State, ultimately enabling HS2 Ltd to deposit the Parliamentary Bill that led to successful Royal Assent.

Nichols has fulfilled a number of strategic roles for HS2 Ltd on both station and infrastructure elements of the programme.  We supported the procurement strategy for complex railway systems, including consideration of potential private finance opportunities.  We co-ordinated the response to the Cabinet Secretary’s review of scope and cost, and the production of the subsequent interim baseline.

We Chaired the Undertakings and Assurances Compliance Committee, providing oversight of, and confidence in, the process for discharging these binding commitments given to Parliament during passage of the Hybrid Bill.  In addition, we supported the Director of Commercial Strategy to develop and execute a number of third party agreements arising from these Undertakings and Assurances.  Nichols enabled the timely handover from the Secretary of State to HS2 Ltd of the first tranche of land at Old Oak Common and provided critical input in brokering a deal with Heathrow Express to vacate their Old Oak Common depot.

We initiated and co-ordinated the development of the Phase 1 baseline (schedule, capital, and operational cost and benefits) that gave confidence in the Full Business Case submission to HM Treasury.  This allowed Notice to Proceed to be granted by the Secretary of State and enabled HS2 Ltd to commence multi £bn contracts to deliver the main works.  We supported the HS2 Chairman to undertake a review of the entire programme, providing an assessment of the programme status and the projected outturn costs.

We have provided a number of Sponsor roles and have successfully improved sometimes difficult relationships with key external stakeholders, constructively challenging those accountable for delivery and ultimately enabling outcomes and benefits to be realised.

We supported the Director of Land and Property to initiate and manage the change programme to enable the directorate to deliver HS2 Ltd’s land and property commitments, as stated within the Act.  In addition, we provided interim roles within the Land and Property department to support the Phase 2a Hybrid Bill process.

Enhanced sponsorship capability

We have played a key role in the project’s Senior Leadership team encompassing project delivery, fostering team building, embedding the inclusivity agenda, and mentoring.  Through our exceptional sponsorship expertise and experience in a number of sectors, we have developed the sponsorship model for HS2 and embedded this within the organisation.

We have expanded our sponsorship service offering to include programme delivery services to Enabling Works contracts.  This technically complex and politically high profile issue affects many communities along the route.  We have been at the heart of the community engagement and instrumental in developing a new policy to compensate residents who are likely to be affected by prolonged disturbance caused by HS2.

As this high profile project moves forward, Nichols is proud to continue acting as a trusted advisor to HS2 Ltd, contributing our experience and supporting on project sponsorship and delivery, lifecycle management, requirements management, and programme assurance and governance.

Nichols always strives to build client capability, leaving our clients better equipped and better able to manage future challenges.  Nichols has actively supported HS2 to integrate good practice and better ways of working to assure the success of this challenging project.


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