11am - 12 noon
Friday 26 March 2021

Challenges of delivering High Speed 2 and other major infrastructure projects

Professor Douglas Oakervee, regarded as one of the United Kingdom’s most distinguished civil engineers with vast international experience in the delivery of major projects, will be speaking.


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  • Meeting ID: 987 7148 9425
  • Passcode: 259575.


No matter where in the world major infrastructure projects are needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, they often face major challenges from their conception to operational service. Despite the importance that governments, developers or sponsors may attach to their scheme, most meet resistance from groups within society at some point in their development.

This talk will examine the tensions that have to be managed between the three key areas of politics, analysis/evidence and delivery together with behavioural cultures. Although I shall be focusing largely on the delivery of High Speed 2 (HS2) I will also briefly consider other major projects both in the UK and overseas to draw comparisons and parallels.

High Speed 2 overview

In 2019 The Prime Minister invited me to undertake a review of HS2 before he was prepared to give HS2 Limited the “Notice to Proceed” which he did in April 2020. The review had to be completed within a short period but nevertheless made some 63 recommendations to Government, most of which have been, or are, in the throes of being adopted. I will highlight some of the key issues and challenges that emerged from the review.

Major projects of the past have not had to contend with the environmental demands that recent legislation demands and which HS2 is currently endeavouring to meet. Therefore, these new challenges present a learning curve in some areas, which will determine standards that will either be adopted or bettered on subsequent phases of HS2, as well as other major projects in the future. Further, I will attempt to explore some of the major construction reforms needed to take full advantage of innovation and the development of smart construction methods currently being driven by the digital twin, robotics and artificial intelligence.

At this point in time this lecture cannot ignore the fact that since HS2 was conceived in 2008 the UK has moved on and circumstances are now very different. Brexit is behind us, but the full extent of its impact has yet to be understood. In addition, along with the rest of the world we are fighting a global pandemic. In the light of these events many wish to challenge the purpose and continuation of HS2 and would prefer to see the huge investment involved redirected into other important sectors.

However, transport connectivity is vital to economic growth, job creation, building housing, and social cohesion. This government has recognised this with its commitments to ‘building back better’ and to the levelling up agenda. In this context, I believe Government see HS2 to be a key component in reaching its goals.


If you have any questions about this keynote lecture then please contact Boulent Imam at b.imam@surrey.ac.uk.

How to attend

This will be an online event held on Zoom.

  • Meeting ID: 987 7148 9425
  • Passcode: 259575.

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