HS2 contracts agreed as Government set to reveal routes north from Birmingham

The route of HS2 north, to Manchester and Leeds, is set to be revealed this morning, with phase one of the project, between London and Birmingham, “progressing well”.

The Government has confirmed plans to extend HS2 from Birmingham to the North West, East Midlands and Yorkshire and the first stage of the big construction contracts – valued at around £6.6bn – have been announced.

Contractors have been appointed to the project, with Balfour Beatty and VINCI Construction securing work on the first section of the route.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that the contract awards will mean the new high speed link reaches Birmingham by 2026.

Preparatory works are already underway, with main construction work starting in 2018/19.

The Transport Secretary will today publish a bill to deliver the next phase of HS2, from the West Midlands to the West Coast Main Line south of Crewe.

Subject to Parliamentary approval this means that this part of the route can open in 2027, six years earlier than planned.

Grayling will also confirm the final Phase 2b route, from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to the East Midlands and Leeds. This phase will complete HS2 and unlock the transformative project’s full benefits for the country.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is a hugely important step in the construction of Britain’s new railway and underlines this government’s determination to deliver an economy that works for all.

“HS2 will deliver vital links between some of our country’s biggest cities, helping to drive economic growth and productivity in the north and midlands.

“As well as providing desperately needed new seats and better connecting our major cities, HS2 will help rebalance our economy.

“We will now get on with building the railway, while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.”

David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, said: “This is a huge day for the HS2 project and for the country. These contracts will support 16,000 jobs here in Britain and will create opportunities for thousands of SMEs.

“HS2 was always designed to be much more than just a high speed railway and today we can see the opportunities it brings right around the country – spreading prosperity, acting as a catalyst for investment and rebalancing our economy 10 years before the railway even opens. Business now has the surety to invest with confidence to build a legacy for Britain.”

This comes amid concerns about the HS2 project as a whole, with campaigners from Stop HS2 claiming that costs will double to £111bn.

Joe Rukin of the Stop HS2 campaign said: “The case for HS2 has been invented by the very cheerleaders who intend to rake in billions of taxpayers’ money which is desperately needed elsewhere, so it really is time to ditch this gigantic white elephant before it is too late.”

Last year it was agreed that the line should serve the existing station at Sheffield, with plans for a link to Meadowhall scrapped. This will mean the demolition of a new housing estate in Mexborough, leading to outrage from residents that had moved in just months before.