The UK government has announced that Parliament has granted approval for the construction of Phase 2a of the High-Speed 2 (HS2) railway project on Monday, March 13th, 2023. The ambitious HS2 project aims to establish a new high-speed rail network that will connect London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, enabling faster and more efficient transportation between these major cities.
Phase 2a of the HS2 railway project, which has been recently given the green light by the UK government, will cover a distance of 58km and connect the West Midlands with Crewe in Cheshire. This phase is expected to be completed earlier than originally planned and will open simultaneously with Phase 1, which will link London and Birmingham and is set to be finished between 2029 and 2033.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed this as a "landmark moment" for the country, stating that HS2 is the most significant expansion to the national railways in a generation. He further emphasized that the project would transform connectivity between towns and cities, increase rail network capacity and deliver the government's promise to "unite and level up the country."
HS2 CEO Mark Thurston expressed his satisfaction with the decision, stating that it was a clear indication of the recognition of the enormous potential of the project by the Members of Parliament. According to Thurston, the construction of Phase 2a would support thousands of jobs and create opportunities for local businesses, thereby reinforcing the critical role of HS2 in Britain's economic recovery from the pandemic.
Phase 2a forms the first section of the western leg of HS2, which will eventually extend to Manchester through Phase 2b. The project has already begun the procurement process for Phase 2a, starting with tenders for a £50m early civils work package. In January of this year, the project announced that joint ventures, including Ferrovial Construction and Balfour Beatty, had been appointed to the £431m track contract for the phase.
HS2 is also considering adding a northern rail connection to facilitate an additional five to seven HS2 trains per hour and boost its link with Northern Powerhouse Rail. The government has been under fire for its inability to deliver major projects on time and within budget. However, Midlands Connect Director Maria Machancoses welcomed the news, stating that it would be music to the ears of businesses, investors and travellers alike, calling for the government to work towards maintaining the momentum and starting construction on the Birmingham-to-Crewe leg as soon as possible.
The Midlands Connect and local MP Kieran Mullan have warmly welcomed the approval, emphasizing the project's significance in creating job opportunities in the region. Furthermore, HS2 is contemplating an additional northern rail connection, which would enable five to seven HS2 trains per hour and enhance its connection with Northern Powerhouse Rail.