UK launches full construction of HS2 railway

UK’s government-funded company High Speed Two Limited has formally launched full construction works of the HS2 railway from London to Birmingham and Crewe. This project, which is considered as the largest one in Europe, will create around 22,000 new jobs. It is expected that the first high-speed trains will start to run between the stations of Old Oak Common, in London, and Birmingham Curzon Street within the period from 2029 to 2033.

“This is a hugely exciting moment in the progress of HS2. After 10 years of development and preparatory work, today we can formally announce the start of full construction, unlocking thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities across the project,” Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said on Friday, 4 September. Preparatory works on several sites are being carried out for several months. Now, the HS2 project sets another milestone: the contractors commence full construction of the first phase of the high-speed railway.

HS2 Phase One

The Department for Transport estimates the cost of HS2 Phase One, the 225-kilometre-long route between London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street, at 35-45 billion British pounds (around 39.3-50.5 billion euros). However, the Oakervee Review, led by the former HS2 chairman Doug Oakervee, provided other calculations. “The Review considered a cost estimate of the HS2 project that has been developed by an external consultant. This estimate sets out a total cost of 106.6 billion pounds in Q4 2015 prices for the HS2 project,” the document reads.

It is planned to partially launch the passenger train traffic from Old Oak Common, the planned station in northwest London, to Birmingham Curzon Street between 2029 and 2033. The line will become fully operational by starting the train connections to London Euston between 2031 and 2036.

Visuals for the proposed HS2 Euston Station, source: HS2 Ltd

More than half of the route will be cut for installing bridges and viaducts as well as will be bored for constructing tunnels. The longest one is the Chiltern tunnel that will have 16 kilometres long and be located northwest from London. 10 boring machines will be deployed on the route. In addition, over 50 viaducts will be built, including what will be the UK’s longest viaduct in the Colne Valley (3.4 kilometres). There will be over 110 embankments, 70 cuttings, 150 bridges and two railway depots.

Contractors and jobs

“HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better – and with construction now formally underway, it’s set to create around 22,000 new jobs. As the spine of our country’s transport network, the project will be vital in boosting connectivity between our towns and cities,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. The new jobs will be created by six joint ventures of contractors that will be involved in the project on the following areas:

  • BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement) will hire 7,000 jobs to construct Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel to Delta Junction and Birmingham Spur, and Delta Junction to West Coast Main Line Tie-In (Handsacre Junction);
  • SCS Railways JV (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG) will recruit 4,800 jobs for building Euston Tunnels and Approaches and Northolt Tunnels;
  • EKFB JV (Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman) will need around 4,000 jobs for North Portal Chiltern Tunnels to Brackley, and Brackley to South Portal of Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel;
  • Mace Dragados JV (Mace Group Ltd, Dragados UK) will hire 3,000 workers to construct London Euston station;
  • BBVS JV (Balfour Beatty Group, VINCI, SYSTRA) will employ a workforce of approximately 1,400 to support the construction of Old Oak Common Station;
  • Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics SAS, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, a subsidiary of VolkerWessels UK) will hire 1,200 vacancies for constructing Chiltern Tunnels and Colne Valley Viaduct.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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