HS2 will create 7,000 unique contracts, with SMEs expected to secure six out of 10.
The government announced it has awarded £6.6bn in contracts for phase one of the railway line, with the first trains expected to run between London and Birmingham in 2026.
“This project is a big milestone for the country that will trigger economic growth and bring thousands opportunities and jobs to the UK,” said a spokeswoman for HS2.
Phase one is expected to support 16,000 jobs over the next six years and will open up 2,000 apprenticeships for young people.
Following a procurement process, major construction companies, including British based Costain and Balfour Beatty, were successful with their bids to work on the high speed railway.
This enormous infrastructure investment covers the main civil engineering works and includes the construction of tunnels, bridges, embankments and viaducts.
Chris Grayling, transport secretary, called the awarding a “hugely important step in the construction of Britain’s new railway and underlines this government’s determination to deliver an economy that works for all”.
David Higgins, chairman of HS2, said: “HS2 was always designed to be much more than just a high speed railway and today we can see the opportunities it brings right around the country – spreading prosperity, acting as a catalyst for investment and rebalancing our economy 10 years before the railway even opens. Business now has the surety to invest with confidence to build a legacy for Britain.”
The government have budgeted £55.7bn for the entire HS2 line, including the second stage from Leeds to Manchester.
However, calculations by Michael Byng, quantity surveyor and creator of Network Rail’s costing methodology, believes the costs could exceed official figures by more than double, at £104bn. HS2 has denied this claim.
Dr Michael Synnott, a senior teaching fellow at Warwick Business School, believes that the government should help boost the economy outside of London and begin phase one in Manchester.
“HS2 has the potential to bring benefits to the UK, but really it is starting at the wrong end of the country,” he said. “Phase one, connecting London to Birmingham, is only going to add to the extensive CV of London, which has no problem bringing in business.”
Preparatory works have started with main construction works due to start in 2018, after the completion of detailed planning work.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.