HS2 has pushed back the start date for its civils work, with construction now expected to commence more than seven months later than originally planned.
The Department for Transport confirmed that the notice to proceed for the £6.6bn civils deals had been moved from the start of March to June to give contractors more time to finalise their designs.
This is HS2’s second change to the notice to proceed, with work having originally been scheduled to begin in November this year.
The confirmation of the delay came in a response from transport minister Baroness Sugg to a question from Lord Berkeley.
She said: “Following consideration of supplier feedback, the HS2 Ltd board has recently decided to move the date of notice to proceed from 1 March 2019 to 1 June 2019 in order to provide suppliers with additional time to optimise their designs.”
The HS2 civils contracts are split into two parts: the design phase and the construction phase.
Contractors are currently working on the design phase of the civils deals.
Once a final design and cost is agreed between HS2 and its contractors, the companies will be given a notice to proceed with construction.
The design stages are divided into six checkpoints through which contractors have to pass.
HS2’s timeline before Christmas had the final checkpoint scheduled for the end of November 2018 – a total of 16 months after the contracts were awarded.
A spokesman for HS2 said the phase one programme “remained on track and on budget” despite the delay.
He said: “Our main construction contracts are designed as a two-stage process to ensure that HS2 is built in the most cost-effective way and deliver maximum value for the taxpayer.
“Having carried out the biggest ground investigation exercise this country has ever seen, involving some 8,000 boreholes, we are now using the knowledge gained, along with the European expertise in each joint venture, to complete the initial design phase.
“This process will drive out risk and increase cost certainties prior to starting construction.”
Last week HS2 revealed it had chosen Sir Terry Morgan as its new chairman to replace Sir David Higgins, who is to step down from the role.