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Sam Sterry's blog: Stay on track for new business opportunities

Date: 10 March 2020

As HS2 gets the green light, Europcar Mobility Group UK's SME sales director looks at the opportunities - and challenges - facing the multitude of subcontractors that are set to reap the benefits.

Spring is in the air and following the flurry of Government announcements around new investment in UK infrastructure projects, the construction and transport sectors could be forgiven for having a spring in their step too. 

The HS2 project, which has been at the top of the news agenda recently, is probably the most exciting opportunity to come over the horizon, comprising 345 miles of new high speed track that will, when it is fully operational, carry over 300,000 passengers a day. Such investment in construction and transport projects offers huge potential and a whole raft of business opportunities for contractors and sub-contractors up and down the country. 

However, whilst HS2 is a great opportunity for many smaller firms, the unpredictability of sub-contracted work can also be a logistical headache. It's hard to plan resources for the numerous unknowns - will the project be for a couple of weeks; a few months or longer? And will the services required vary over the project? 

Planning mobility support for the workforce is also challenging in these circumstances, especially if a business doesn't want to risk making a long-term commitment to vehicles and equipment. The trick is to balance having the right transportation when it's needed, without facing a car park full of vehicles and an unnecessary burden on cash flow. 

This is where working with a flexible mobility provider can give firms operating across the multitude of services that are set to benefit from the HS2 project, the right level of agility. By partnering with a trusted and experienced supplier, sub-contractors can access both commercial vehicles and cars when they are needed - allowing them to up-scale at short notice to meet demand, but without the commitment to long-term expenditure which could send project costs off track. 

Vehicle rental also means firms can access the latest and most technologically advanced vehicles. At Europcar Vans for example, we have a fleet of over 8,000 commercial vehicles, with an average age of 13.3 months, available from sites up and down the country, including 10 dedicated van and truck super sites. And Europcar Advantage provides brand new cars and vans - with all the performance and efficiency benefits - for three months or more, without any long-term commitment or early exit penalties. 

Plus, when working on any major construction project, specialist vehicles are going to be essential to getting the job done. Chapter 8 compliant vehicles are essential for those working road or trackside, and there's likely to be a requirement for specific equipment such as tow bars, racking to beacons and ply lining. So businesses need to be sure that a supplier can provide all the vehicles to suit their needs. 

The HS2 project is also likely to present contractors and sub-contractors with another challenge that vehicle rental could help address. Because it is a high profile, government initiative it is likely to come with high expectations in terms of emissions. The use of fuel efficient commercial vehicles which meet 

Euro 6 regulations will, therefore, be vital, not only to the finances of each contract, but also to ensure that CO2 emissions are kept down and help towards any sustainability targets that the project has in place for its partners. 

HS2 is clearly going to be a welcome injection of work during uncertain times for firms of all sizes right across the engineering and construction sector. To embrace the opportunity, the key will be to make sure the right supply chain partners are on hand, not only to handle the work on offer but to stay in control of costs and be able to pick up and put down vehicles when and where they are needed.