HS2 hails start of construction as "jobs boost" for Britain

HS2 marks major milestone as it moves from enabling works to full construction following Notice to Proceed in April.

HS2 has today announced the formal start of construction on the nation’s largest rail infrastructure project, heralding a 22,000 ‘jobs boost’ for Britain. (4/9/20).

The news follows a Notice to Proceed (NtP) issued in April this year to the four main works civils contractors (MWCCs) working on the project to commence full detailed design and construction of phase one of HS2 (the route from London – West Midlands).

Today’s announcement signals that the MWCCs are moving from enabling works, scheme design and preparatory work, to full construction of the railway.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better – and with construction now formally underway, it’s set to create around 22,000 new jobs. As the spine of our country’s transport network, the project will be vital in boosting connectivity between our towns and cities.

“But HS2’s transformational potential goes even further. By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today marks a major milestone in this government’s ambitions to build back better from Covid-19. Shovels in the ground to deliver this new railway means thousands of jobs building the future of our country’s infrastructure. This fantastic moment is what leaders across the North and Midlands have called for – action to level up our country by boosting capacity on our railways, improving connections between our regions, and spreading prosperity.”

Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd said: “This is a hugely exciting moment in the progress of HS2. After 10 years of development and preparatory work, today we can formally announce the start of full construction, unlocking thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities across the project.

“With the start of construction, the reality of high speed journeys joining up Britain’s biggest cities in the North and Midlands and using that connectivity to help level up the country has just moved a step closer.”

The Balfour Beatty VINCI Joint Venture expects to recruit 7,000 construction jobs on the West Midlands section of the HS2 route, with women and under-25s the core focus for recruitment and skills investment.

Skanska Costain STRABAG JV has confirmed that it will create an estimated 4,800 jobs, including employment for around 550 previously unemployed people and 400 apprenticeships.

Align JV expects to recruit 1,200 vacancies, with over 100 opportunities for apprentices. They plan to target their recruitment and investment in upskilling local people who are currently unemployed, with a particular focus on women, under 25s and those with disabilities.

BBVS will employ a workforce of approximately 1,400 to support the construction of Old Oak Common Station. As well as providing over 250 apprenticeship positions, the joint venture is committed to attracting local candidates, of all ages and backgrounds.

Mace Dragados JV, who this month moved onto the construction site adjacent to Euston station, forecasts that it will need 3,000 workers to help deliver the capital’s new central high speed station.

An estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will be created during phase one of HS2, supporting thousands of jobs on site and many more around the country. It is estimated that around 95% of those contract opportunities will be won by UK based businesses and around two thirds of those will be small and medium sized businesses. 

HS2 Ltd itself is already directly recruiting for 500 new roles over the next three months, with the majority based in Birmingham, as the project moves into the construction phase. 

As expected, the formal start of construction on HS2 has been warmly welcomed by industry figures and trade unions alike.

A spokesperson for the High Speed Rail Group (HSRG) said: “HS2 is the most significant infrastructure project in a generation and will be a flagship programme as the nation seeks to build back better from Covid-19. With shovels already in the ground, today marks a major milestone in the life of the project and our members relish the opportunity to kickstart our economy and get Britain moving once again in the post-coronavirus economic recovery”

The GMB union described the news as a much-needed boost to thousands of workers and the wider supply chain. Jude Brimble, GMB national secretary said: “The UK urgently needs to deliver investment in infrastructure, and the start of main works is a critical step in the construction of HS2. The construction industry is struggling and today's announcement will be a much-needed boost to thousands of workers and the wider supply chain.” 

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “It is great news that HS2 has announced it is moving into its main construction phase today. HS2 is a fantastic long-term opportunity for the UK, delivering jobs and investment for towns and communities across the country. It will also spur much needed economic growth at an essential time for the economy. The rail industry stands ready to deliver HS2 and support the national effort to build back better.”

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