The NEC Spotlight podcast series explores how NEC collaborative contracts are being used to deliver high-quality infrastructure projects across different sectors on time and budget.
In July 2022, Mark Thurston, Chief Executive Officer, and Keith Lomas , Project Client Director, from HS2 recorded the first episode of the podcast to talk about NEC for the rail industry, how it is benefiting project delivery and lessons learned to date. HS2 is being delivered using NEC4 and is of the biggest and most expensive engineering project ever taken in the UK and the world’s largest NEC-procured project to date.
In this episode, Mark Thurston explained how HS2 uses NEC contracts extensively for the different phases of the project and discussed why they chose NEC Contracts: ‘Civil engineering arena has accepted that NEC is the most contemporary form of contracting'. He also said: ‘We used it for the majority of our professional services partners which we have many, and we’ve got partners who help on procurement, on system, and system integration.’
In particular, Mark cited the collaborative nature of NEC4 which made it well suited to deliver a complex project that ‘takes long durations, with lots of interfaces, and huge number of dependencies on the client and what the client does.’ He commented that NEC contracts encouraged a collaborative environment for the client, contractor, and consultant, and helped to ensure clear lines of communication and transparency: ‘Once you’ve got that high degree of dependence between the client, the contractor, and the consultant, then it lends itself to a contract form that creates the right sort of collaborative environment, for the right conversations, and certainly how we try to drive these big and complex contracts at HS2 is to put the team together in a very integrated way. I think the way the NEC works through the early warning mechanism, and the roles of project manager, contractor and supervisor lend itself to working together in quite a transparent way.’
He highlighted the value of the early warning mechanism and said his team had been creative in finding a way to use the processes within the contract in ways appropriate for the scale of the project: ‘It has been used actively by the civil contractors to flag to us whether the assumptions and exclusions and the other things we agreed at the outset of the contract actually play out in reality… it’s a great way of giving the contractors and their designers a way of flagging that to us and getting us round the table and forcing us to work those out. We clustered early warnings into time-based, whether it’s by week or geography.’
Keith Lomas who worked on a specific part of the project talked about his experience of using NEC at the Curzon Street train station. He said the foundational clause fosters a ‘spirit of mutual trust and co-operation’ in the team and encourages everybody to work together to resolve challenges.
Listen to the episode trailer for a preview here.
All the podcast episodes are available for listening on our desktop community platform : www.community.neccontract.com, or through our NEC Community App which is free to download onto mobile devices at the Apple and Google stores.