HS2 Ltd and BSI lead innovative project to update infrastructure design standards

BSI, the National Standards Body and HS2 Ltd are working together to ensure infrastructure design standards and codes deliver the best solutions efficiently. This first of its kind consultation project is part of HS2’s Efficiency Challenge Programme and aims to manage and improve infrastructure design codes and standards to improve efficiency and save costs.

The plethora of current design codes and standards means that numerous duplications and overlaps, sometimes with conflicting requirements, make the design process unnecessarily complex. As a result this often leads to different interpretations by different designers complicating the compliance and construction processes. This project will identify the best way in which current design standards and codes can be harmonized and define what specific additional guidance is necessary to help deliver the design and construction of HS2 more efficiently.

As part of phase one of this 3-part process, BSI will be carrying out a series of industry workshops. Experts from the civil engineering, building and power and systems industries will come together to find a solution to the challenges faced by big spend infrastructure projects. The resulting updating of standards and development of project-specific guidance documents will clarify the standards to use and how to apply them. 

The aim is to make the application of design standards more efficient and also to encourage innovation. When the initial bid documents clearly show the standards and specifications that are necessary at the outset, it will help to reduce over-design and re-design (and associated overspends) and timeline slippages. These factors are of major interest to large scale projects such as HS2 which rely heavily upon strong communication and clarity from the outset. Their success is also dependent on learning from past projects where over-specification and a tendency to apply unnecessary standards have resulted in higher costs. These experiences will help to shape the development of a new guidance document and the publicly available specification (PAS) that will be produced later.

Some of the organizations involved with this phase of the project include Health and Safety Executive, Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Royal Institute of British Architects and Rail Industry Association amongst others.

Director-General, Standards - Scott Steedman

Scott Steedman Director-General, Standards at BSI says, “We see a major opportunity for a new guidance document setting out how existing design standards for construction should be used by experienced engineers on HS2 in a consistent manner to achieve efficient, cost-effective solutions."

Bill Grose of the Efficiency Challenge team at HS2 Ltd says, “BSI will identify a number of industry volunteers to undertake the updating of the codes. This method of carrying out the work brings additional benefits to industry; not only does it identify changes to improve efficiency, but it also gives the opportunity to improve skills in the application of design codes industry-wide. So far the response from industry has been unanimously positive.”