HS2 ditches plan for £5m land-rights platform after project rollbacks

Following the government’s decision to radically scale back the scope of new rail infrastructure – and the resultant lack of need for land safeguarding – authorities have cancelled a planned IT system

HS2 Ltd has scrapped plans for a centralised IT system to manage data and services related to land rights. The cancellation comes following government’s decision to significantly scale back the railway project.

The government-owned company last year published a contract notice seeking potential suppliers for a “spatially enabled Land Referencing Common Platform managed solution to enable consistency and integrity of land-referencing data and services delivered by multiple land referencing service suppliers”. The chosen provider was expected to be appointed to a 54-month contract worth about £5.6m.

Used in property or infrastructure projects, land referencing involves identifying and managing data related to people or organisations that have rights or legal interests in the land being developed upon.

Following the decision last year to cancel phases 2a and 2b – which would have extended HS2 services from Birmingham onto Manchester, via Crewe, and Leeds – the government announced in January that the “safeguarding of land and property across the majority [of the planned route] had been removed”.

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This being the case, HS2 Ltd has decided that the centralised land-referencing system is no longer needed either. The company, which operates as an arm’s-length body of the Department for Transport, announced the abandonment of these plans via a freshly published commercial notice.

The document says: “The Land Referencing Common Platform procurement has been abandoned for [these] reasons: there is an anticipated reduction in use of the platform, specifically due to cancellation of Phase 2 of the HS2 Project; there is an anticipated reduction in users of any such platform, due to cancellation of Phase 2 of the HS2 Project; and, due to the reduction in use, and the anticipated costs of such solution, utilisation of a common platform is no longer deemed by HS2 Ltd to constitute value for money.”

After government announced the decision to limit the scope of the project to a London-to-Birmingham line, HS2 undertook exercises in engaging with suppliers to understand the impact on commercial arrangements – which included several major incumbent technology deals, and plans to spend up to £100m on software to support its train-dispatch system.

Sam Trendall

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