£2m HS2 contract secured by gas reinstatement specialist

Gas distributor and reinstatement specialist Whitcombe Pipelines (WPL) has secured a £2m contract to work on HS2.

Employing 160 people at its base in Rowley Regis, WPL tapped into Wolverhampton’s National Infrastructure Solutions (NIS)’ ‘Recruit, Train, Retain’ model to pass all the requirements for working on HS2.

The Achilles-registered company will complete reinstatement works for gas pipelines, as well building new access roads and verges.

WPL anticipates more than 40 people will be employed across several project locations at any one time.

The firm says it has seen a major year of growth, with sales doubling to £10m over the past twelve months.

Damian Whitcombe, who launched WPL in 2018 after learning his trade from his father Ron said: “Health and safety, training and compliance are very important features in our sector and come as a prerequisite for working on major rail and infrastructure schemes such as HS2.

“Growing as fast as we are, we need to bring in additional expertise and the relationship with NIS typifies the type of partnerships we are trying to build.

“Our focus must be the whole picture – recruiting fresh people into the industry, in addition to multi-skilling and upskilling our current workers”.

The firm is using an app that displays its workers’ qualifications. It gives a traffic light system to show when training competencies new renewing, meaning WPL is compliant.

WPL has also been working alongside National Infrastructure Solutions (NIS), resulting in securing a contract with Cadent.

NIS provides specialist training for the rail, infrastructure and construction sectors, and was involved in developing a workflow app.

This delivered a multi-user reporting application that allows the user to conduct surveys, and arrange appointments, whilst also supporting planning and delivery of reinstatement works.

The app allows operatives to upload picture evidence and information is then collated into a single job card report that ensures the client receives a ‘right first time’ approach to work and customers enjoy a first-class experience.

Matt Wright, the operations director at NIS said: “Companies can sometimes see training and qualifications as a burden, but we have turned the tables on this view through the power of technology and being able to offer everything in one place”.

Damian Whitcombe said: “NIS has increased our ability to attract fresh talent to our sector while ensuring compliance amongst our current workforce. This has been vital when tendering for both HS2 and other rail work as it gives us an easy way of demonstrating a forward-thinking approach and competency compliance across our current workers”.

WPL and NIS are in discussions about introducing bespoke industry specific courses to support WPL’s move into major civil engineering projects across the West Midlands and beyond.