The High Speed Rail Group welcome today’s announcement that the Government has issued the formal “Notice to Proceed” (NTP) to allow the construction of HS2 to commence.

Following the news, an army of women and men will now set about the task of building Britain’s new north-south railway line with 11,000 people working on the project today, rising to 15,000 by the end of the year, and 30,000 by peak construction and train-building.

The industry is committed to delivering every penny of the public investment as efficiently as possible and wringing every benefit from the project. Now the debate on whether to build HS2 has been resolved, we can focus on working together to make the most of it.

Naturally, the first steps in the construction will all be carried out in line with Public Health England guidance in respect of COVID-19, but once the pandemic has passed the delivery of HS2 will accelerate. Indeed, the investment in HS2 will give a stimulus to the UK economy at a time when it is likely to be much needed.

Commenting on the announcement, Will Roberts, Director at High Speed Rail Group, said:

“At a time when the country is facing such enormous challenges, this is very welcome news. We must continue to look to the long-term, and there is no project which will do more to transform the long-term prospects of UK PLC than HS2. It will also be vital to tackling the climate emergency, with a new high capacity fully electrified railway essential to deliver modal shift away from aviation and car travel.

“A small army of 11,000 people is already working to make HS2 a reality – and that number will rise to 15,000 this year and 30,000 in the longer-term, including 2,000 apprentices. This team, coming from hundreds of different companies all over the UK, will work night and day to make the vision of HS2 a reality.”

HSRG has always supported the delivery of HS2 as the first step towards the longer-term creation of a national high speed rail network reaching all parts of Britain. We view the key benefits of HS2 as including:

  • HS2 will smash the North–South divide by transforming regional productivity – business connectivity improvements from HS2 in the North and Midlands will be double those in London.
  • HS2 is transforming our cities right now – Deutsche Bank, HSBC UK and PwC have all chosen either to relocate or expand their presence in Birmingham, based on HS2 going there. With the future of the scheme now assured, we can expect similar in all other cities on the line of route.
  • The benefits go far beyond just the cities on the line of route – Midlands Connect research shows that HS2 will free up enough space on the existing network to improve rail services for 73 stations across the country.
  • HS2 allows Northern Powerhouse Rail to happen – the choice between them was always a false one, akin to suggesting that the M62 should be built but not the M1, and HS2 will provide 50% of the new lines needed by NPR. NPR services on two of the most important regional links (Liverpool to Manchester; and Leeds to Sheffield) will run on HS2 infrastructure.
  • HS2 is essential to net zero emissions and tackling the climate emergency – as the transport sector undertakes an irreversible shift towards net zero emission mobility, a high capacity fully electrified railway such as HS2 is essential to making this happen and delivering vital modal shift away from aviation and car travel.
  • HS2 can now be a catalyst for the ‘infrastructure revolution’ the government seeks– with this extensive investment in the skills of major project delivery, HS2 can be the catalyst to transform the infrastructure of the nation, fit for the 21st century.