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As the High-Speed 2 (HS2) railway project continues to unfold, a significant question arises for Scottish businesses: should they seize more shares in this monumental infrastructure project? With £11.5 billion already allocated in contracts since 2016, yet only a fraction of this sum reaching Scottish companies, there’s a growing urge for these firms to step up and claim a larger piece of the pie.
To date, Scottish businesses have lagged in securing HS2 contracts, with only 56 companies sharing £137 million worth of tier 2 contracts. That’s a stark contrast to regions like the West Midlands, South East, and East of England, each reaping over £1 billion.
This disparity brings to light a potential missed opportunity for Scottish firms in an expansive project that’s reshaping the UK’s transport infrastructure.
HS2 is not just a rail project; it’s a catalyst for growth across multiple sectors, including tech, digital, rail, and low-carbon industries. From 2024, HS2 will launch new contracts for supplying track, power, overhead catenary, telecoms, signalling, and mechanical and electrical fit-out. That marks a significant transition in the project’s phase and opens doors for businesses to contribute to numerous requirements.
HS2 has cost around £106 billion so far. That’s almost double the allotted budget. The construction of HS2 is a massive undertaking involving endless materials, technologies, and manpower. From precast retaining walls, essential for stabilising embankments and cuttings, to advanced signalling systems, the project demands a wide array of supplies.
Other materials include steel for track construction, electrical components for power systems, and telecom equipment for communication networks. The cost of these materials is substantial, representing a significant portion of HS2’s overall budget.
Interestingly, 71% of Scottish firms involved in supplying HS2 are SMEs. That highlights the project’s potential in supporting small businesses, not just large corporations. For instance, Zappshelter, a Perthshire-based company, has successfully provided bespoke storage solutions at various HS2 sites. That indicates the diverse nature of opportunities available within the HS2 supply chain.
HS2 offers Scottish businesses a chance to expand their horizons and diversify their portfolios. Engaging in such a high-profile project can elevate a company’s profile within the UK and internationally. However, to capitalise on these opportunities, firms need to act promptly. Registering on HS2’s supplier platform, CompeteFor is a crucial first step to gaining access to upcoming tenders.
Beyond direct contract gains, participating in HS2 can cause a ripple effect on the Scottish economy. It can stimulate job creation, foster innovation, and potentially lead to long-term partnerships and growth. Moreover, as HS2 progresses, the demand for various products and services will evolve, potentially benefiting a broader spectrum of businesses.
As HS2 transitions into its next phase, the call for Scottish businesses to take a more active role is loud and clear. The project presents a unique opportunity in terms of financial gain and in contributing to landmark infrastructure development.
For Scottish companies, especially SMEs, now is the time to step forward and play a part in shaping the future of UK rail transport. By embracing this opportunity, they can help drive Scotland’s economic growth and showcase their capabilities on a grand stage.