Monday 17 October 2016

HS2 to spend nearly £1 million on psychological tests for construction workers


HS2 to spend nearly £1 million to perform psychological test among its construction workers to detect their stress levels.

HS2, the company set up to oversee the mammoth project, has earmarked up to £900,000 to spend on a team of behavioural psychologists who are already overseeing team-building and assessment exercises, including giving test subjects model trains and maps and asking them to build a railway to scale.

Further exercises will aim to identify who fares best in a number of challenging, often unexpected situations, such as a subcontractor going bust, engineers hitting a water main or a sinkhole appearing suddenly.

Nine international consortiums submitted final bids to work on the 220mph service, which will eventually connect London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, last week.

Teams of 10 from Balfour Beatty and Vinci, who submitted a joint bid, Carillion, Kier and Eiffage, Travaux Publics, Ferrovial, BAM and Morgan Sindall have undergone tests lasting from 8am to 5pm. At least one team member lost his temper and stormed out, according to reports.

B2B Partnering Performance is overseeing the tests, which have become increasingly common in large-scale contracts and infrastructure projects involving companies that have not worked together before.

B2B director John Doyle told the Financial Times: "When people write things down, they spin it. Seeing them actually behave is the best evidence".

The company has previously been employed by the Ministry of Defence and on the 2012 London Olympics contract process, as well as Highways England and the £4.6billion Thames Tideway Tunnel, dubbed London's "super-sewer".

They employed similar methods to try to mitigate the knock-on effects – practical and financial - of crises and conflict.

Roger Bailey, asset management director for the Thames Tideway project, said: "It brings the whole thing to life. People can provide fantastic writing in their bids, but this provides a reality check.

"It enabled us to see the contractors in a semi-real situation, how they would react to time pressure or a safety event".

Transport secretary Chris Grayling is due to announce detailed plans for the service's send phase, from Birmingham to Leeds, in November. The HS2 Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent before the New Year, with work commencing in 2017.

"It's about building confidence that the bidders can actually deliver the price they promise. We want to evaluate their ability to deliver the collaborative behaviours they claim to possess", an HS2 spokesman said.



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