Winners of HS2 Phase One contracts announced

The winners of £6.6 billion worth of major construction contracts for HS2 Phase One have been announced.

Carillion, Contain and Balfour Beatty are among the UK firms who will build tunnels, bridges and embankments on the first stretch of the new rail line.

The contract will support 16,000 jobs, and the construction of the full HS2 route to the north-west and Yorkshire will create up to 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships. Another 3,000 people will operate HS2 and it is predicted that growth around new HS2 stations will create another 100,000 jobs.

According to the government, HS2 could carry more than 300,000 people a day, and with fast trains using the new line there will be extra space for more trains on the existing rail network. The trains will run as far as Scotland and the number of seats available out of Euston in peak hours is expected to be more than doubled. HS2 is due to open in December 2026.

Critics, however, have said that the £56 billion project will damage the environment and is too expensive.

The decision over HS2’s route through the North of England has been delayed for several years due to a series of disagreements, the most controversial of which has been which route it should take through Sheffield. The preferred plan for route through Yorkshire would mean bulldozing the new Shimmer estate in Mexborough.

The final routes of the Manchester and Leeds branches of HS2 are due to be announced later, and will include a decision over its path through Sheffield.

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said: “As well as providing desperately needed new seats and better connecting our major cities, HS2 will help rebalance our economy.”

He disputed a report that recently emerged estimating that the cost of HS2 could inflate to more than £100 billion, saying the figure was ‘nonsense’.

Richard Westcott, Transport Correspondent, said: “The government says HS2 is ‘on time’ but they're clearly not talking about the route for the second phase, which was first promised in around 2014.

“I remember flying a drone over a farm in Cheshire four years ago, filming the proposed route at the time.

“The farmer has been waiting ever since then to find out if he'll lose his business. He got in touch with me last year saying: “Obviously we know nothing more today than we did when you were with us nearly 30 months ago, as the decision for HS2 Phase 2b has been put off yet again”.

“Anyone affected by the line now gets a year or two to put their case together and present it to a special committee of MPs who'll go through thousands of fears and objections before recommending any changes to the final route or the way it's designed.

“When you talk to people adversely affected by HS2 they all say the same thing. Their lives go into limbo, often for years, just waiting for answers.”

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