Following on from the publication of the Oakervee Review and the Government’s decision in February to continue with the HS2 project, today (Wednesday 15 April) the Department for Transport (DfT) has given approval for HS2 Ltd to issue Notice to Proceed (NtP) to the four Main Works Civils Contractors working on the project – SCS Railways, Align JV, EKFB JV, and BBV JV – to commence full detailed design and construction of Phase One of the HS2 railway (the route from London – West Midlands).
Speaking about the announcement, Gerald Jennings, West & North Yorkshire Chamber Board Director and the Chamber’s spokesperson on high speed rail said,
“In these challenging times it is important that we do not lose sight of future opportunities which will help boost the UK economy when we enter the recovery phase. The Chamber has always maintained the view that HS2 built in full alongside Northern Powerhouse Rail and upgrades to the existing rail network will increase capacity, connect our towns and cities more efficiently and ultimately reduce our reliance on our highly congested roads. We welcome this decision by the DFT and will continue to champion this programme and ensure the Prime Minister’s commitments to ‘levelling up’ continue despite the current upheavals.”
To date, the contracts between HS2 Ltd and the Main Works Civils Contractors (MWCC) for Phase One have focused on undertaking scheme design and site preparation (including pricing and scoping) for the civils work. The issuing of NtP marks the point in the MWCC contracts where the work transitions from scheme design and preparatory work, to full detailed design and construction.
Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said:
“In these difficult times, today’s announcement represents both an immediate boost to the construction industry – and the many millions of UK jobs that the industry supports – and an important investment in Britain’s future: levelling up the country, improving our transport network and changing the way we travel to help bring down carbon emissions and improve air quality for the next generation.”
HS2 Ltd awarding the contracts to four MWCCs is the next significant step of Phase One of the project. 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.
Mark Thurston continued:
“HS2 has been over ten years in development and design. While the country’s focus is rightly on defeating COVID-19, the issuing of Notice to Proceed today ensures that our contractors and their supply chains have the confidence that they can commit to building HS2, generating thousands of skilled jobs across the country as we recover from the pandemic.”
The MWCCs will start work immediately, progressing detailed design, site preparation works and placing important sub-contracts. Our contractors are continuously reviewing their ability to work within Public Health England guidelines to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce and the communities in which we are working.
The HS2 railway is a significant investment both in the near and longer-term economic health of the country. At this crucial time HS2 is ‘shovel-ready’ and will drive investment right across our country. Cities including Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester are already benefitting several years before the railway opens. Once operational, HS2 will serve over 25 stations connecting around 30 million people. HS2 will significantly improve connectivity in the North and Midlands and will also integrate the existing network serving stations into Scotland, creating 500,000 extra jobs and 90,000 homes around HS2 stations.