HS2

HS2 rail project work begins with pledge of 22,000 jobs

Construction work on HS2 officially begins today, with 22,000 jobs expected to be created in the next few years.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said HS2 is “vital to boost connectivity”.

Mr Johnson endorsed the high speed rail project in February, and the Department for Transport gave approval for works to proceed in April.

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The Notice to Proceed to the four Main Works Civils Contractors working on the project allowed the contractors to start full detailed design and construction of Phase One of the HS2 railway.

Today’s announcement signals that the contractors are moving from enabling works, scheme design and preparatory work, to full construction of the railway.

Mr Johnson said: “HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better – and with construction now formally underway, it’s set to create around 22,000 new jobs.

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“As the spine of our country’s transport network, the project will be vital in boosting connectivity between our towns and cities.

“But HS2’s transformational potential goes even further. By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.”

The high speed rail project is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – and hopes to reduce passenger overcrowding and help rebalance the UK’s economy through investment in transport links outside London.

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HS2 expects to create around 22,000 jobs. But critics argue HS2 will also cost jobs, and vow to continue protesting.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said: “Trying to spin HS2 as a job creation scheme is beyond desperate, as even if you take the governments low estimate of cost for Phase One of HS2, creating 22,000 jobs works out at almost two million pounds just to create a single job, at a time when well-run businesses are going under every day, and Boris Johnson is rather less keen to mention the 19,590 jobs that HS2 will permanently displace.”

Who are the main HS2 contractors?

HS2’s main works contractor for the West Midlands, the Balfour Beatty VINCI Joint Venture, along with its supply chain partners, has said it expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the West Midlands over the next two years, with up to 7,000 skilled jobs required to complete its section of the HS2 route.

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The EKFB Joint Venture (Eiffage, Kier, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial) – building the section from the Long Itchington Wood site in Warwickshire south to the Chiltern tunnel portals, has said it will recruit over 4,000 roles in the next two years, many based in Milton Keynes, as work ramps up in the area.

HS2’s Tier One construction partners based in Greater London: Skanska Costain STRABAG, Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA, Align JV and Mace Dragados JV, confirmed that they will collectively recruit over 10,000 new jobs.

HS2 Ltd itself is recruiting 500 new roles over the next three months, with the majority based in Birmingham.

HS2: Transformative vs destructive

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today marks a major milestone in this government’s ambitions to build back better from COVID-19.

“Shovels in the ground to deliver this new railway means thousands of jobs building the future of our country’s infrastructure. This fantastic moment is what leaders across the North and Midlands have called for – action to level up our country by boosting capacity on our railways, improving connections between our regions, and spreading prosperity.”

HS2 Ltd’s Mr Thurston said the railway would be “transformative” for the UK.

“This is a hugely exciting moment in the progress of HS2. After 10 years of development and preparatory work, today we can formally announce the start of full construction, unlocking thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities across the project.

“We are already seeing the benefits that building HS2 is bringing to the UK economy in the short term, but it’s important to emphasise how transformative the railway will be for our country when operational. With the start of construction, the reality of high speed journeys joining up Britain’s biggest cities in the North and Midlands and using that connectivity to help level up the country has just moved a step closer.”

But, Stop HS2 chairwoman Penny Gaines has called the project “environmentally destructive” to wildlife.

“This is why there are currently hundreds of activists camped out along the HS2 route. We don’t expect them to go away any time soon.”

You may also be interested in:

Another angle of the HS2 Tunnel Boring Machines

HS2 reveal images of the first two completed giant Tunnel Boring Machines to be used in the first phase of the high speed rail project. Click here for more details.

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Sam Hewitt
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