What is ‘a legacy of high-speed rail-building skills’?
Foreign construction companies chasing nearly £9 billion of HS2 contracts have ‘been warned by the government that unless they create thousands of local jobs and invest in a legacy of high-speed rail-building skills they will not be welcome in Britain’, The Times reported.
[Create jobs or miss out on HS2, foreign engineers told, Robert Lea, The Times, 13 Oct 2016]
The country’s biggest infrastructure bidding competition, for seven packages of civil engineering work between London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street to build the first phase of HS2, starts today, with nine international consortiums submitting final bids. Each is led or significantly influenced by groups from overseas.
This sounds like a load of old nonsense. What exactly is ‘a legacy of high-speed rail-building skills’?
By its nature, construction work tends to be temporary. Roads such as the M25, and railways like the Great Western, and Crossrail, were built by workers from overseas prepared to move with, and live on, the job. It seems likely that HS2 would be highly reliant on such workers.
Most of the remaining GB train-building industry closed down in the 1980s, and over the last few years, billions of pounds worth of train contracts have been handed out to the likes of Siemens and Stadler, without any requirement to ‘create thousands of local jobs’, or a ‘legacy of skills’. So why is this suddenly going to be a requirement for HS2?