London, Oct 2019
A group of young apprentices today delivered a letter to Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, urging him not to scrap the "transformational" HS2 project that is "part of all our futures".
Arguing that their "voices should be heard" in the ongoing debate around HS2's future, the group say that they are "immensely proud that we are helping deliver one of the most important programmes for our country - the first north-south railway in 100 years" and that the project will be "globally admired" if it is completed.
The 18 HS2 apprentices drew attention to the 30,000 HS2 jobs that would be put at risk if the project was scrapped: "Decisions taken today will affect us the most. Much is at stake: our future, the future of high-speed rail and rail investment, the 9,000 jobs working on the HS2 programme today, the 30,000 set to work ahead as well as many more hundreds of thousands in related programmes resting on HS2." HS2's apprenticeship programme will create 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities over the project’s lifetime.
And they highlight the opportunities "not just [for] a wide range of young people from different backgrounds like us but also other opportunities too, for example helping the long-term unemployed into apprenticeships providing life chances that people have not had before".
The apprentices say that their roles at HS2 show that the project represents a "significant boost to enhancing skill levels and creating pathways for high-skilled jobs across the UK" and that scrapping the project would put at risk the "skilled jobs the country needs".
Their intervention comes as Douglas Oakervee finalises his Independent Review of HS2, which is assessing the project's future. It also comes ahead of Monday's Queen's Speech. The apprentices are seeking assurances of "the Government’s continued commitment to the legislation needed to deliver HS2."
High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Director Isabel Coman commented:
"HS2 has played a huge role in creating opportunities for young people from all sorts of backgrounds, getting them into apprenticeships and providing life chances that they could never have dreamed of before. It would be such a loss for them and the skills agenda if this scheme doesn’t go ahead.
"HS2 has given these apprentices such an important start in life, just as this transformational project will give all parts of the country a new lease of life, as well as breaking the North-South divide and supporting a zero carbon future.”
Full text of the letter.
As apprentices for HS2 suppliers we are writing to you in an open letter to register our strong support for this vital scheme, in advance of the Oakervee review reporting its findings, and ahead of next week’s Queen’s Speech as we want to see within it the Government’s continued commitment to the legislation needed to deliver HS2.
As apprentices we feel that our voices should be heard in the discussions on the future of HS2. We are not only helping deliver the programme, but we will be users of this transformational railway for years to come. In addition, as we know, HS2 is a significant boost to enhancing skill levels and creating pathways for high-skilled jobs across the UK - we are a testament to this. Many more apprentices can join us working on the scheme, but we need HS2 to continue.
The Prime Minister and Government Ministers repeatedly say that they want to invest in Britain and that the younger generation needs a positive future. HS2 represents this. Decisions taken today will affect us the most. Much is at stake: our future, the future of high-speed rail and rail investment, the 9,000 jobs working on the HS2 programme today, the 30,000 set to work ahead as well as many more hundreds of thousands in related programmes resting on HS2. We are part of the future success of our transport system, a successful rail sector and the skilled jobs the country needs.
We are immensely proud that we are helping deliver one of the most important programmes for our country - the first north-south railway in 100 years. But, we know too it is not just a transport programme but an economic one that helps connect the country. Developing a British high speed rail network – using UK talent, engineering and manufacturing – will allow us to develop even further the national capability in high speed rail. Around the world, multiple countries from India to Australia to the USA are planning high speed rail lines; HS2 and the skills and capability it will create will allow our companies – and us - to take advantage of these new opportunities. Working together we can successfully deliver a truly globally admired project and as a result create multiple future prospects.
We are also proud of the opportunities that HS2 offers, not just to a wide range of young people from different backgrounds like us but also other opportunities too, for example helping the long-term unemployed into apprenticeships providing life chances that people have not had before. We are collectively part of the HS2 success story and HS2 is part of all our futures. We hope that this is recognised and considered as the programme is being assessed ahead.
About High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL)
Representing companies with relevant experience and an interest in high speed rail, High Speed Rail Industry Leaders is committed to supporting the successful delivery of a world-class high speed rail network in Britain. Our members have helped deliver major infrastructure projects in the UK and around the world, ranging from creating entirely new high speed networks through to maintaining and improving the UK’s existing rail network. This gives us a unique insight into both the shortcomings in the current network, and the transformative capacity and connectivity benefits that high speed rail can bring. Our unique set of expertise in engineering, operations, funding and regulation gives us the experience to ensure the extension of the high speed rail network leaves a lasting legacy for the UK. The company’s principal objective is: “to support, promote and champion the development of high-speed rail in Great Britain”.
Two Align teams, Commercial and Technical, participated again this year in the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay around the streets of London. Both teams excelled, with the Technical team smashing their time from last year and Commercial team being narrowly beaten by Bank of America on the very last lap in the Mixed Team event.
Michael Collins, Commercial Team Captain commented - “This is a team event, it’s not about individuals. We trained together, raced together, stayed together and then celebrated together – with our wonderful and vocal supporters. They made a big difference during the race.”
Not content with their performance during the race, the teams continued... after refreshments.
The popular Align run club meets each Tuesday and Thursday lunchtime and training is already underway for the race next year.
100 million passenger journeys in a decade 
£1 billion boost to the Kent visitor economy from the high speed line 
48 million miles travelled collectively 
In September, Southeastern celebrated the 10th anniversary of the UK’s first and only domestic high speed train service. Opened to the public with a special ‘preview’ service on the 29 June 2009, Southeastern Highspeed has carried more than 100 million passengers over the past decade, connecting the capital to Kent.
To kick-start the birthday celebrations Southeastern invited colleagues from across its Highspeed network, Hitachi Rail and HS1 Ltd, to take part in a commemorative photo to celebrate the work of employees who have worked on the high speed line over the past decade.
With an unrivalled average delay per train of less than five seconds on Southeastern’s Highspeed service, and overall passenger satisfaction at 92%  - one of the country’s highest ratings - the service has proven itself to be best in class.
David Statham, Managing Director at Southeastern said: “We are incredibly proud to operate the nation’s first and only domestic high speed service. Southeastern Highspeed has played a key role in major events such as the London 2012 Olympics and been a catalyst for growth in the South East, generating economic, cultural and social value.
“Since its launch 10 years ago, we have seen a marked increase in the number of businesses wanting to invest and grow in the locations such as Stratford and towns across Kent we connect. We hope to have the honour of operating the Highspeed service for the next decade.”
Southeastern’s Highspeed ‘Javelin’ trains, built by Hitachi Rail using Japanese bullet train technology, travel at speeds of up to 140mph, making them the UK’s fastest domestic train. The service has dramatically cut journey times for passengers travelling into London from destinations across Kent, for example:
Journeys between London and Ebbsfleet have been cut by 33 minutes, from 51 minutes to 18 minutes.
Ashford to London has seen a reduction of 43 minutes, from 81 minutes to 38 minutes.
Those living in Canterbury have had their journeys into the capital cut from 1 hour 45 minutes to just 56 minutes.
The popularity of Southeastern’s Highspeed service has led to significant growth in passenger numbers, with a compound annual growth rate of over 11% - more than double that on the rest of the Southeastern network.
Changes to journey times have transformed the opportunities available to people living in Kent. High speed infrastructure has delivered an estimated £1 billion boost to the Kent visitor economy and supported around 72,000 jobs. 
Kent’s visitor economy has also benefited from the service, with tourists and leisure passengers now accounting up to 30% of all journeys made. 
During the London 2012 Olympics, Southeastern ran a special service to Stratford International, transporting around 25,000 people per hour.  Since then the rail operator has named many of its trains after famous British athletes including Dame Kelly Holmes, Dina Asher Smith and Sir Steve Redgrave.
Dyan Crowther, CEO of HS1 Ltd, said: “Over the last decade we have seen exceptional growth in domestic services along the high speed line. We believe high speed rail is essential to the future growth of the UK, as it not only improves connectivity, but provides continued social, economic and environmental benefits to the communities it serves. We are proud to be flying the flag for high speed rail in Britain and see HS1 as a model for the future.”
Andrew Barr, Global CEO of Hitachi Rail, said: “Hitachi Rail brought Japanese bullet train technology to the UK, delivering the iconic Javelin trains for the HS1 route. At the same time, we invested in a brand new facility to maintain the trains in Ashford, creating 120 long-term skilled jobs in Kent. The 29 trains in the Javelin fleet are engineered to meet HS1’s dual voltage and multiple signalling systems, and their superb performance and reliability is a credit to the Hitachi teams who designed and maintain them.
“Our expert teams continue to work round the clock to ensure that Southeastern and HS1 passengers are able to rely on a world class high-speed train service, and have set the standard for Hitachi to go on to deliver further brand new intercity fleets, train maintenance operations as well as a manufacturing facility in the UK.”
 Source: HS1 Tourism Impact Study, June 2017
 Source: HS1 Tourism Impact Study, June 2017
 Source: Southeastern internal data
On Sunday 8 September a team from Align, plus spouses, friends and more importantly Rory the King Charles Cocker Spaniel the team mascot, once again took to the hills in the annual Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge, which is now in its 11th year. Most of the team undertook the seven-mile hike with two colleagues going the extra mile, actually four miles and completing the 11-mile challenge.
”It was a thoroughly enjoyable walk out on the Chilterns, even though we didn’t see Boris at Chequers. The weather was kind, great scenery and good company. If anyone asks, taking a wrong turn was all part of the plan… honest!”
The challenge was in aid of the Rennie Grove Hospice Care, a charity which provides care and support for adults and children diagnosed with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses and their families.
Align’s Community Engagement Coordinator added: “I believe that it is important that we show our commitment to being good neighbours, supporting much needed services within the local community who will be impacted by our works”.
Everyone who took part enjoyed the experience of walking in the glorious countryside of the Chilterns Ridgeway and a number expressed their intention to participate again next year. To date the team through sponsorship and registration fees has raised nearly £1,000 for the charity, so many thanks to all who donated.
London, Sept 2019
The University of the Third Age (U3A) provides continued learning opportunities for people in retirement.
As part Align’s ongoing commitment to engage with local communities, the team was delighted to accept a request to make a presentation to the South Bucks U3A Group, to provide an oversight of the main construction works we are planning. The presentation was followed by an opportunity for Q&A that addressed the form of construction of the tunnels using Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) and the construction of cross passages that will join the two tunnels. The presentation went through the tunnel boring machine process and how it operates through a repetitive cycle of excavation and ring building (concrete reinforcement), essentially making it operate like a small factory underground. The specific challenges related to the geology associated with the tunnel excavation were then explained, leading to a discussion as to why Align has selected Variable Density TBMs, which can handle highly variable geologies along the tunnel route from stable rock to soft water-bearing ground. This then led onto a discussion around how the slurry generated from the tunnelling will be processed with the resulting spoil being used for landscaping.
The audience was very engaged and the focus of the discussion moved to a more technical discussion about the construction of cross passage tunnels and included details on the key geological and geotechnical factors influencing the design and construction methods to be used. In particular, the talk raised the importance of understanding the ground conditions and highlighted the importance of in-tunnel site investigation, stabilising ground conditions and the use of external and in-tunnel instrumentation and monitoring.
Paul Le Blond, Co-convenor, South Bucks U3A Science Group commented “It was a fascinating presentation which the group very much enjoyed. To understand the preparation work that goes into tunnel construction and the level of complexity involved was eye-opening.”
London, Sept 2019
London, May 2018
Align JV has appointed Daniel Altier as its new Project Director to lead the delivery of the C1 work package on behalf of HS2.
Daniel takes over from Jérôme Furgé at the joint venture made up of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick. Jérôme has returned to one of the parent companies, Bouygues Travaux Publics, to run their UK Business Development division.
A senior Bouygues Civil Engineer, Daniel has recently completed the prestigious LianTang tunnel mega-project in Hong Kong, and brings with him over 30 years of experience in major infrastructure project delivery.
Daniel has several recent world-class international projects under his belt. These include the Lok Ma Chau, Ocean's Park, West Drainage and Liantang projects in Hong Kong, as well as the FerJijel high speed line in Algeria, and the Dublin Port Tunnel in Ireland.
These projects have given Daniel significant tunnelling expertise, and he has industry-leading credentials in delivering for large construction organisations; specifically as part of works preparation, project implementation, and multinational team management.
About his appointment, Daniel says, “HS2 is one of the most important high-speed rail projects in the world, and I am proud to be entrusted with such a challenging and inspiring enterprise.”
“I’ve inherited a team of closely collaborative and expert individuals at Align, all of whom share boundless enthusiasm for the communities we serve, and the innovative thinking that goes behind the design and delivery of this momentous legacy for Britain’s future.”
Align is a joint venture of three international and privately-owned infrastructure companies; Bouygues Travaux Publics, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick, a subsidiary of VolkerWessels. Their combined experience; both in the UK and worldwide, in delivering high-profile infrastructure projects safely, on time and on budget, has long established their reputation.
HS2 C1 package
In July 2017, the ALIGN joint venture, was awarded the C1 package of the UK High Speed 2 line (HS2). Lot C1 consists of 21.6km of high speed rail infrastructure in a rural environment. This will include a 3.37km viaduct, 15.75km twin-bored tunnel and five vent shafts handling both intervention and tunnel ventilation facilities.
Working with design partners Jacobs and Ingerop, the Align-D team are now in the process of developing the Stage one scheme design.
The three Align parent companies collectively employ over 20,000 people and have a combined parent-group turnover of over £12.5bn. As experienced contractors in the delivery of transport infrastructure, including current high-speed rail projects in the UK, France and Hong Kong, they are able to manage complex projects from inception to completion. Between them, the Align companies have completed 178km of high-speed rail and 343km of rail tunnels.
Align adds additional expertise in transport infrastructure delivery through its prestigious Align-D partners:
Jacobs leads the global professional services sector, with $15 billion in combined revenue and a talent-force more than 74,000 strong. Visit www.jacobs.com
Ingérop, a multinational company active in more than 70 countries (includes UK-based Rendel) is one of France’s leading independent consultancies with extensive high-speed rail experience, amongst which, the recent Brittany-to-Loire high-speed line. Visit www.rendel-ltd.com
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