Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced a major milestone for HS2, starting the bidding process for phase one of the project with at least seven new contracts being opened up to companies, with a total combined value of £11.8bn. The contracts cover a range of areas including some 230km of new tunnels, bridges and earthworks required to build the new route.

Mike Napier, Director at HSRIL commented: “The debate is over. HS2 has passed the point of no return and is now moving ahead at pace. The news is a huge boost to the industry and with that comes the responsibility to deliver. We are ready, willing and able to do so.”

HS2 forms a major part of the government’s plan to rebalance the UK economy and build a Northern Powerhouse by providing high speed rail services from London to the Midlands, and the North. Construction of phase one is due to start in 2017, and when opened will reduce the travel time between London and Birmingham from 1hr 21min to 49min. Work is also underway on developing plans to transform East-West rail links.

Our members have helped deliver major infrastructure projects in the UK and around the world, ranging from creating entirely new high speed networks through to maintaining and improving the UK’s existing rail network. We aim to use this experience and expertise to ensure the extension of the high speed rail network leaves a lasting legacy for growth, jobs and skills that will be the envy of the world.

HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Simon Kirby said: “The start of the civil engineering bidding process is a major milestone for HS2 as we continue to move towards the start of construction in 2017.

“Over the next decade, the winners of these contracts will go on to build 230km of bridges, tunnels and earthworks and create thousands of jobs across the construction industry. Together we will transform intercity rail travel in the UK, build specialist skills and expertise across the country, create at least 2,000 new apprenticeships and build a legacy to inspire the next generation of young engineers.”