Jacobs reappointed to controversial bridge portfolio

06/05/2021
Chris Ames

Highways England has awarded Jacobs a new £30m contract for ‘the maintenance and disposal’ of over 3,000 assets that make up the Historical Railways Estate (HRE).

Jacobs will be the sole provider for the term contract on the HRE, which includes 77 listed structures across the UK and whose management has been highly controversial.

The new contract is estimated to be worth £30m over a seven-year period, with the option to extend to 10 years.

It will see Jacobs continue its role as professional services supplier to Highways England, delivering multi-disciplinary services including design, site supervision, bridge and scour assessments, abnormal load checking and stakeholder management, as well as environmental, ecological and estate management services across HRE's assets, which include viaducts, bridges, tunnels and culverts.

Donald Morrison, Jacobs People and Places Solutions senior vice president Europe and Digital Strategies, said: ‘Jacobs has a long-established relationship with the Historical Railways Estate and this award provides an excellent opportunity to continue our successful partnership and investment in developing U.K. talent for the next decade.

‘We look forward to working closely with HRE to efficiently manage their assets, with a focus on safety, sustainability and digital delivery.’

Highways England manages the HRE of 3,200 structures on behalf of the Department for Transport. Its plans to infill or demolish more than 100 disused railway bridges, which campaigners say could be needed for new rail or active travel routes, have been strongly criticised, particularly by campaigners the HRE Group.

The group said that Highways England’s plans are coming under increasing pressure from local authorities, with Herefordshire council recently refusing to grant the government-owned company planning permission to infill two bridges on a disused line between Hereford and Hay-on-Wye.

It added that, having previously accepted the use of Permitted Development powers, Northumberland County Council has become the 16th local authority to insist that Highways England obtains planning permission for its infilling schemes.

Jacobs said that as a trusted partner of the HRE since 1998 and sole provider since 2004, it has built and sustained a team that focuses on successfully delivering Highways England's objectives and that over the next seven years it will draw upon its digital innovation capabilities to help HRE manage its estate more efficiently and safely.

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