HS2 reaches 20,000 jobs landmark

By Dominic Ellis
As HS2 high speed rail project reaches 20,000 jobs landmark, the eastern leg 'hangs in the balance' with a decision in two weeks according to reports

HS2 has today announced that over 20,000 people are now working on the project, one year on from the Prime Minister announcing the formal start of construction on Phase One from London to the West Midlands.

Contracts have already been awarded to over 2,200 businesses, 97% of which are UK-based. A further £25bn worth of opportunities are expected to flow out into the wider supply chain over the coming years.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP, said while there have been some issues with the project in the past, hitting the landmark of 20,000 jobs underlines the project's "unstoppable momentum". 

“It’s been an incredible year of progress as work continues across the country to deliver a new backbone of Britain’s transport network, fit for the 21st century and beyond," he said. “Reaching this landmark is testament to the hard work and dedication of all those involved in the project.”

Around 1,100 people who were formerly unemployed have now secured sustainable employment on HS2, and that number is expected to increase in the months and years ahead as the pace of major construction work increases and HS2’s journey extends north. However the eastern leg of HS2, Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, linking the Midlands to Leeds is "hanging in the balance", with a crucial decision to be made within the next two weeks, according to reports.

Mark Thurston, Chief Executive of HS2, said: “We’re enormously proud of the progress we’ve made on HS2 since the Prime Minister gave us the go-ahead last year, and despite the challenges of the pandemic. We’ve already launched our first two tunnelling machines, with more to launch in the coming months, and construction of our stations and depots are well underway.

“HS2 is moving forward, creating jobs, enhancing skills, benefiting UK businesses and building a low carbon, high capacity railway that will change the way we travel in Britain.” 

Alongside hitting the landmark of 20,000 jobs on the project and over 650 apprenticeships, HS2 has been making steady progress along the route since Boris Johnson visited the Interchange station site in September 2020.

Selected highlights of the past year include:

October 2020: Two huge modular bridges were moved into place at our Interchange station site in Solihull. One 2,750-tonne, 65-metre bridge structure, was installed in just two days. A second, 45 metre, 914 tonne modular bridge over the A446 in Solihull, was moved into place in only 45 minutes.

November 2020: HS2 invited businesses to tender for £12bn of supply chain contracts to be let over the next 18 months.

December 2020: HS2 outlined progress at the Euston station site.

January 2021: Permanent construction of the huge Victoria Road Crossover Box in West London started.

February 2021: Parliament gave approval to extend the route north to Crewe.

March 2021: Work began on the UK’s longest railway bridge, with an expert team of ground engineers sinking the first of almost 300 piles that will form the foundations for the Colne Valley Viaduct.

April 2021: HS2 revealed the innovative treatment technology behind the ambitious Colne Valley ‘rewilding’ project to create 127 hectares of new grassland and woodland around HS2’s Chilterns tunnel.

May 2021: Launched ‘Florence’ – the first of ten Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) that will dig 64 miles of tunnel on Phase One.

June 2021: The Transport Secretary gave the go-ahead for the start of permanent works on HS2’s west London ‘super-hub’ station, Old Oak Common.

July 2021: Excavation began for the first of five shafts that will provide ventilation and emergency access to the ten-mile long tunnels being dug under the Chiltern hills.

August 2021: Opened a new railhead near the village of Calvert which will help the project continue to deliver construction material by rail to its biggest Buckinghamshire site without putting extra lorries on local roads.

September 2021: Started work restoring one of the world’s oldest railway buildings to incorporate it into HS2’s new Birmingham Curzon Street station.


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