HS2 Ltd has set a construction start date of Spring 2024 for Phase 2a of the project.
The target date for the start of earthworks is revealed in board minutes from December but just made public.
Phase 2a runs for 57km from the West Midlands to Crewe and will form the first section of the western leg of HS2 phase 2, which will eventually run to Manchester. Phase 2a interfaces with Phase 1 - from London to Birmingham - and with the existing West Coast Mainline, south of Crewe.
The minutes add that “a short paper will be prepared to set out the route for Phase 2a delivery from now to 2024 (to ensure the deadline for main civils commencement is met)”.
The report will set out "how lessons learnt from Phase 1 have informed the delivery strategy for phase 2a, and have driven a different proposal for how enabling works, main works civils, design and delivery management integration will be performed,” the minutes add.
The Phase 2a route is largely rural, passing through farmland, but also includes residential areas and towns. It also passes through a number of local authority districts, including Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Cheshire.
Along the route there is around 2.5km of bored tunnel, 7km of viaducts, 19M.m3 of embankments, 20M.m3 of cuttings, 42 structures, overbridge and underbridges, and one combined Infrastructure maintenance depot.
Amendments made to the HS2 Phase 2a bill before it was passed into law, require HS2 Ltd to publish reports on the scheme’s impact on ancient woodland, as well as giving local authorities more notice about road closures.
The amendment was added to the bill after local leaders said construction of HS2 phase one is clashing with work on the East West Rail programme, leading to “complete chaos” on the roads of Buckinghamshire.
Calvert Green Parish Council chairman Phil Gaskin complained about a lack of joined up thinking between contractors working on the projects at a government cross-party Transport Committee meeting. He said that local businesses, bus companies and commuters were being “consistently disrupted” by changes to road diversions and HGVs moving through rural communities.
To improve this, HS2 Ltd has deployed13 senior leaders along the line’s Phase 1 route between London and the West Midlands to ensure that its contractors comply with assurances it and the Department for Transport have made.