October 2020 UK Project Management Round Up


Major Projects, Energy Projects, Construction News, Small Projects, PM Issues, Covid Projects, BREXIT and Magawa the hero rat


By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK




Pressure of work prevented me from reporting last month, so you get a double dose this month.  Quite a lot has happened despite the slowness of the economy so we must hope people are beginning to adapt to the conditions; certainly some businesses have been very quick to react, changing their business model and continuing to trade successfully.  Few seem to be reacting with projects but there can be little doubt that careful planning has been necessary – and the changes clearly need to be managed – that sounds like project management even if the perpetrators choose to call it something else.  This month, we take a brief look at major projects, moves in the energy industry, updates on some construction projects and more.


High Speed 2 (HS2) has been progressing quietly during the lockdown and work has now begun.  The project received a green light in February and the official “notice to proceed” was issued in April.  Our Illustrious Leader (OIL) Boris Johnson claimed it was passing the point of no return as the formal start of construction took place at the beginning of September.  The first phase build is the route from London to Birmingham and will include 10 miles underneath the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire.  HS2 is billed as Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, 22,000 new jobs hinge on successful completion and about £12 billion has been spent to far – roughly a quarter of the total budget.

Phase 1 includes major tunneling work so we have welcomed Cecilia and Florence to help out.  These are not the tunneling Project Manager – remember these roles were occupied by women in the Cross Rail Programme – but tunnel boring machines (TBM) – German boring machines.  It was not immediately clear why these have been brought into service as I seem to recollect, we had eight German Boring Machines purpose built for Cross Rail.  On closer inspection, the HS 2 tunnels are bigger and there are four soil types to burrow through.  Cecilia and Florence, built like the eight little maids at Cross Rail by Herrenknect, are huge.  According to Align, the joint venture of Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick and Sir Robert McAlpine who will deliver the work:

  • The TBMs are 170m in length – nearly 1.5 times the length of a football pitch;
  • Each one weighs roughly 2000 tonnes – about the same as 340 African bush elephants;
  • Once they start, they will run non-stop for 3.5 years;
  • The tunnels will go as deep as 90 metres below ground level – ensuring communities and countryside above are not impacted by the railway;
  • The size of the TBM cutterhead which will bore the tunnels is 10.26m, roughly the height of two giraffes standing on top of one another;
  • The internal diameter of the tunnels in which the trains will pass through will be 9.1m, slightly larger than two London buses stacked on top of one another.
  • The tunnels will be lined with concrete segments that will be 2m x 4m and weigh on average 8.5 tonnes each.
  • 112,000 of these concrete segments will be required to complete both tunnels.

3D model of HS2 TBM Image: Building

The pair are the first variable density TBMs used in the UK specially designed to overcome the ground condition challenges.  These machines are expected to run non-stop for 3.5 years.


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How to cite this work: Shepherd, M. (2020). October 2020 UK Project Management Roundup, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue X, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/pmwj98-Oct2020-Shepherd-UK-Regional-Report2.pdf



About the Author

Miles Shepherd

Salisbury, UK


 Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World Journal in the United Kingdom. He is also managing director for MS Projects Ltd, a consulting company supporting various UK and overseas Government agencies, nuclear industry organisations and other businesses.  Miles has over 30 years’ experience on a variety of projects in UK, Eastern Europe and Russia.  His PM experience includes defence, major IT projects, decommissioning of nuclear reactors, nuclear security, rail and business projects for the UK Government and EU.  Past Chair, Vice President and Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM), Miles is also past president and chair and a Fellow of the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  He was a Director for PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and is immediate past Chair of the ISO committee developing new international standards for Project Management and for Program/Portfolio Management.  Miles is Chair of the British Standards Institute’s Committee on Project, Programme and Portfolio Management and has been involved in the development of Uk’s BSI 6079 for more than 25 years.  He was involved in setting up APM’s team developing guidelines for project management oversight and governance.  Miles is based in Salisbury, England and can be contacted at miles.shepherd@msp-ltd.co.uk.

To view other works by Miles Shepherd, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/miles-shepherd/.