Royal Assent granted for High Speed 2

Transport infrastructure champions have reacted positively to the news that phase one of High Speed 2 has received Royal Assent. Construction of the route between London and Birmingham will begin this spring.

“The project will not only deliver jobs and growth across the country, but will be a major step in tackling the capacity crisis on the UK’s rail network,” said Civil Engineering Contractors Association head of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming.

“We look forward to working with HS2 Ltd and other stakeholders to ensure that local economies and communities draw the greatest benefits from this once in a generation project.”

To mark the occasion over 40 rail apprentices who hope to work on the project joined Transport Minister Andrew Jones at Euston station on Thursday. In all it is thought that 9000 apprenticeships will be created for phase one, as part of 27,000 people employed on the scheme by the end of the decade.

In September the first cohort of students will enrol at the new National College for High Speed Rail in Birmingham and Doncaster.

A spokesman for High Speed Rail Industry Leaders, which helped to organise the celebration at Euston, said: “With so many enthusiastic and skilled young people ready to help build and deliver the first phase of High Speed 2 we look forward to nurturing their talent and developing world class engineers and experts.”

A CIHT spokesperson said it welcomes this milestone on the future of High Speed 2 and looks forward to the industry being able to act on the certainty this provides. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Department for Transport on this and other major infrastructure projects that are programmed for delivery over the next few years."

Institution of Civil Engineers director general Nick Baveystock said that the project will add much needed capacity to the UK’s rail network, strengthen connectivity and create new economic opportunities in our major cities. 

"High Speed 2 will also help to better integrate other parts of the UK’s transport network. Its successful delivery is critical to the plans being drawn up by Midlands Connect and Transport for the North for improving regional connectivity and economic growth."

Over in France yesterday President Hollande inaugurated the Tours to Bordeaux high speed line, which is due to start running in July. The project saw over 300km of new line built and 39km of connecting lines to link to urban centres in South West France.

The project, delivered by VINCI, will cut journey times between Paris and Bordeaux to a little over two hours.