High Speed 2 contracts announced

Three enabling works contracts worth a total of £900M to build the first phase of the High Speed 2 railway between London and Birmingham have been announced by the Government.

A Costain / Skanska Construction joint venture has been awarded Area South; the Fusion joint venture (Morgan Sindall, BAM Nuttall and Ferrovial Agroman) has won Area Central; and a Laing O’Rourke Construction / J Murphy & Sons joint venture has secured Area North.

Works will cover archaeological investigations, site clearance and setting up construction compounds ahead of the start of the main civil engineering work.

Government has also set out its preferred route for Phase 2b of High Speed 2 from Crewe to Manchester and between the West Midlands and Leeds. Seven refinements have been proposed, a consultation has begun and a final decision on those sections will be taken next year.

On the eastern leg refinements include moving the alignment of the route from Derbyshire to West Yorkshire, with trains serving Sheffield with a connection to the existing station. It is also now proposed that the railway passes around rather than beneath East Midlands Airport. 

Revised proposals on the western leg include moving the approach to Manchester Piccadilly nearly 400m to the east and moving a section of line between Middlewich and Northwich in Cheshire 800m to the west.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The full HS2 route will be a game changer for the country that will slash journey times and give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. “But while it will bring significant benefits I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route,” he added. “They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with Phase One, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law.”