HS2 will spend almost £1m on psychological tests aimed at assessing the ability of prospective construction crews' ability to work under pressure, according to reports. The intention of the tests is apparently to ensure that consortiums bidding for contracts for the London to Birmingham rail track are able to work together effectively.
Though £900,000 of public money may seem like a steep cost, an HS2 Spokesperson said ensuring the teams can "deliver the collaborative behaviours they claim to possess" will in turn ensure an efficient and prudent workforce. The tests, which will be conducted by B2B Partnering Performance, will apparently involve role-plays of stressful events such as sinkholes appearing under the track and and team-building exercises.
HS2 is placing considerable faith in the assessment, contributing 20% of the assessment of each consortium's bid. It is not uncommon for such tests to form a key factor in awarding contracts for large-scale projects such as this, with those bidding for the Thames Tideway also required to conduct such assessments.
John Doyle, director of the company charged with conducting the tests, said: "When people write things down, they spin it. Seeing them actually behave is the best evidence."
Similar sentiments were echoed by Thames Tideway asset manager, Roger Bailey, who argued: "It brings the whole thing to life... this provides a reality check."
HS2 said the tests will "build confidence that the bidders can actually deliver the price they promise".
The HS2 project – on which £1.4bn has already been spent – has yet to receive the final green light, by way of royal assent for the HS2 bill. Though this is expected to happen before the year ends and transport secretary Chris Grayling said earlier this week that construction would begin next year. Grayling's announcement follows criticism by the Public Accounts Committee last month that the lack of clarity on the timetable and costs of delivery created "significant uncertainty" surrounding the project.
Nine international consortiums submitted bids, with teams of 10 from Balfour Beatty and Vinci's joint bid, Carillion, Kier and Eiffage, Travaux Publics, Ferrovial, BAM and Morgan Sindall among those tested at assessment centres.