Delay factors for international engineer-procure-construct (EPC) high-speed rail construction projects

Due to complex projects and diverse risks, schedule delay has always been one of the major problems in high-speed rail construction. Chinese infrastructure companies are the main force of the international market after the Chinese government implemented the One Belt and One Road initiative (OBOR). Currently, more than 10 international engineer-procure-construct high-speed rail (IEPCHSR) projects are being considered or undertaken overseas by Chinese companies. However, delay has severe consequences for the progress of most IEPCHSR projects. The aim of this study is to identify the significant delay factors for IEPCHSR projects. This study was conducted as an exploratory study through literature review and semi-structured interview with seven managers from Chinese IEPCHSR related companies. Result reveals that some delay factors concluded from general international infrastructure projects are also applicable in IEPCHSR projects. In the engineering phase, inappropriate management in design management, inefficient land acquisition, design changes and lack of EPC subsidiary contract management for HSR projects are likely to cause delays. In the procurement phase, improper procurement prepared, under-estimated procurement price, unreliable agency, inefficient logistics in equipment and labour are leading causes. In the construction phase, the significant delay factors are improper construction task planning, inexperienced site supervision, ineffective technical standard management and ineffective continuous progress payment. Further study will analyse their interrelationships with Chinese construction companies using a questionnaire survey and structural equation modelling (SEM) technique. The result from this study should enable the Chinese HSR practitioners to gain a better understanding of the inter-relationships between the different potential delay factors.