HS2 N1 – N2 enabling for client BBV

Balfour Beatty Vinci JV
Mar 2020
Adam Griffiths
Adam Griffiths was not in employment, education or training when he joined our team on the project through Walsall Works. He was soon promoted to groundworker.

We have a number of teams working for client BBV JV on enabling works for HS2 N1 and N2 sections near Birmingham.

120 people are working on the project, and that number keeps rising.

We are providing multi-skilled operatives, traffic marshals, gangers, concrete finishers, slingers, crane supervisors, steel fixers, carpenters, foreman, groundworkers and plant operators. Our women in construction programme encourages girls to recognise the wide range of opportunities for women in engineering. We currently have over 7% women on the project in a range of trades – considerably surpassing the industry average of 1% women on site.

A number of our people have been promoted, including

  • Adam Griffiths promoted to groundworker
  • Joga Singh promoted to ganger
  • Jonas Zienka promoted to steelfixer supervisor
  • Russell Waters promoted to carpenter supervisor.

    Lisa Reynolds accepting an award
    (L to R): BBV general foreman Ray Chard hands Lisa Reynolds an award to thank her for her work, watched by labour manager Antony Iveson

Our teams are supported by delivery manager James Burke and labour manager Antony Iveson. We work collaboratively with partner Danny Sullivan Group to ensure all orders are swiftly and appropriately filled with the best possible candidates.

Training sessions to upskill the workforce have continued despite COVID. These included IPAF (International Powered Access Federation) training on MEWP (mobile elevating work platforms), EUSR (Energy and Utility Skills) and SSSTS (Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme) training.

In addition, Leigh Wright and Gage Wright have achieved NVQ diplomas in carpentry and formwork respectively.

Gage Wright
Gage Wright achieved his NVQ level 2 in Formwork (Construction)
Leigh Wright achieved his level 3 NVQ in carpentry

At Long Itchington, we have teams including steelfixers, carpenters and concrete gangs working on the STP (slurry treatment plant).

The tunnel boring machines mix water with the spoil to form slurry. This is pumped into the STP where it will be treated, so it can be re-used for landscaping in the area. There will be 1.5km of bored tunnel and 0.5km of cut and cover near Long Itchington Wood.

At Washwood Heath our delivery access marshals (DAMS) are involved in creating the new rolling stock depot.

The new depot is on the spur which will run west into a new station at Curzon Street in Birmingham city centre. The station entrance will be next to Moor Street station.

Supporting local people

90% of our people live less than an hour’s travel distance from the project, which covers over 80km.

We work with West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Birmingham council, and Walsall Works, to help people who are unemployed into work. Wallsall Works nominated us for a bronze award for our contribution.

Our schools engagement programme has supported more than 5,000 students in the last 24 months. It includes regular online work experience opportunities; 33 WMCA students signed up for our two 2021 virtual week experience weeks.

With the City Hearts Bright Future partnership, we are setting up a programme to help survivors of modern slavery to access construction employment opportunities.

Go Beyond the Gates, our award-winning programme to provide sustainable employment opportunities to ex-offenders, includes collaboration with HMP Birmingham, Drake Hall and Stoke Heath.

We took part in virtual jobs fairs, including the Dudley South and Halesowen and Rowley Regis careers fair in November 2020, and the Women into Construction West Midlands trades and labour recruitment event in April 2021.

Construction Gateway
L to R: Kimberley McGinty, Brooke Parsons, Richard Wheeler, Ruairí Coffey

With fellow labour supplier Danny Sullivan Group, we are taking part in the Construction Gateway, a training programme funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority. It gives candidates the chance to gain qualifications and a work placement on the project. VGC CSR manager Kimberley McGinty, Danny Sullivan CSR manager Brooke Parsons, VGC’s head of HSQE Richard Wheeler Danny Sullivan HSW manager Ruairí Coffey delivered modern slavery, mental health, fairness, inclusion and respect, and Make Safety Personal training to those taking part in the six-week pre-employment programme.

In March 2021 Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority, opened our new Solihull office, which adds to our existing office in Birmingham city centre.

About BBV JV

Ian Kerswell, Martin Stanier, Andrew Grey, Joe Sells
Ian Kerswell, Martin Stanier, Andrew Grey and Joe Sells are mechanical fitters and welders working on the STP

BBV is made up of Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd and VINCI Construction Terrassement.

The West Midlands section of HS2’s Phase One route covers 80km from Long Itchington in Warwickshire to the centre of Birmingham, and on to Handsacre in Staffordshire. The N1 section between the Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel and the Delta Junction / Birmingham Spur is valued at £1.32bn.

We have a long history of successfully supplying BBV, most recently on the M6, M5 and M4 smart motorway projects. (We have won 250 club awards on the M5 and M6, and won ‘sub-contractor of the month’ on the M4 in Nov 2019 and Mar 2020.) We have also supplied to both Balfour Beatty and Vinci on Thames Tideway, as well as several Crossrail projects.

For the West Midlands phase of HS2 BBV will build:

  • 42 viaducts totalling over 11km with 66 overbridges
  • more than 35 cuttings reaching over 30km
  • 56 culverts and other underbridges
  • 66 embankments reaching over 33km
  • four motorway crossings
  • six interfaces with the existing rail network
Top photo: 2020 at Birmingham Curzon Street by Geof Sheppard Feb 2020 CC SA 4.0