/ Design/Engineering / High Speed 2 Coming to England with BIM Leading the Way #YII2014

High Speed 2 Coming to England with BIM Leading the Way #YII2014

Matt Ball on November 5, 2014 - in Design/Engineering, Event Coverage, Land Development, Rail, Transportation

We heard today from Prof. Andrew McNaughton, the technology director of the High Speed 2 (HS2) project at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure Conference.  HS2 is betting big on BIM, and will stretch the technology through this 42 billion GBP ($80B) project. Japan has lead the high-speed rail, and there hasn’t been a fatality. China is now leading. France has shrunk the distance between their cities thanks to their investment.

It matters to Britain because the country is growing the fastest they have ever grown, and growing in cities. The number of people living in cities will continue to grow, and the country is looking to expand beyond London, making the rest of the country competitive. HS2 is a key to making this geographic equalization and rebalancing the country’s economy possible, bringing Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham as close as a cross-town underground trip in London. The country wants people to travel and connect.

Big in the plans of transformation is change in land use. Birmingham, an old industrial city, looks at high speed as a means to bring new life to the city. A new Sustainable city is also being planned in West Midlands, just a 30-minute travel time with HS2.



HS2 is a complex technical system, from power, communications, earthworks, structures, tracks, control systems, noise mitigation. They are thinking of this along the same lines as the systems that drive defense.

HS2 is not just an engineering project, first and foremost it’s a political project. The technology approach borrowed from Disney’s “Imagineering” involves talking in people’s language and not about the grim sounding concept of BIM.

BIM is a cultural and business process transformational project. It’s hard, but there is no reasonable alternative. The new project provides a chance to set a good foundation for data, and with planning they want to ensure that there’s no “rubbish” in the data, and a data rich information model.

Among the many challenges is a national education program, picking up the baton from Crossrail and Thames Tideway Tunnel project, and upscaling from these for a full this fully national project. The plan is to “upskill” all the suppliers across the country, and with an eye toward exporting that expertise to the world.

BIM Reliance

The project is utterly reliant on BIM. It’s the means for communicating with local councils and as a means to engage the public. Everything about the model has to be right.

The project has more stakeholders than any other project. People want to know what it looks like from bedroom windows, how it will impact wildlife, and what it will sound like. They needed a digital railway that is interactive so any stakeholder can see exactly what it means for them, throughout the day and throughout the seasons.

The 24hr. transportation system has an ongoing cycle of operations and maintenance, and the two will be more aligned than ever. One integrated system is at the center, and it must be upgradable.

The thinking of this new transport system is all the way down to the handhelds that we use to navigate our world. We’ll have a guide from the time we purchase the ticket, taking us right to the door that’s next to our seat. It is designed for people, and not full of barriers that label you as a thief. It’s a friendly system, because people that are happy and not stressed move more quickly.

The watch word for the whole project is “Reliable.” Future generations will look at this project, and they will get it right.

  • Read the report, “Rebalancing Britain: From HS2 Towards a National Transport Strategy,” here.

About Matt Ball

Matt Ball is founder and editorial director of V1 Media, publisher of Informed Infrastructure, Earth Imaging Journal, Sensors & Systems, Asian Surveying & Mapping and the video news site GeoSpatial Stream.

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