HS2 has announced the formal start of construction on the high-speed rail project, highlighting the large number of jobs the project will be recruiting for in the coming months and years.
The Department for Transport (DfT) gave approval on 15 April for HS2 to issue a Notice to Proceed (NtP) to the four Main Works Civils Contractors (MWCCs) working on the project to commence full detailed design and construction of Phase One of the HS2 railway (the route from London to the West Midlands).
Now the formal announcement signals that the MWCCs are moving from enabling works, scheme design and preparatory work to full construction of the railway.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “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.
“But HS2’s transformational potential goes even further. By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.”
The move to construction also heralded a ‘jobs boom’ on the project. HS2’s main works contractor for the West Midlands, the Balfour Beatty VINCI Joint Venture (BBV JV), along with its supply chain partners, has said it expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the West Midlands over the next two years, with up to 7,000 skilled jobs required to complete its section of the HS2 route.
The EKFB Joint Venture (Eiffage, Kier, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial), which is building the section from the Long Itchington Wood site in Warwickshire south to the Chiltern tunnel portals, has said it will recruit over 4,000 roles in the next two years, many based in Milton Keynes, as work ramps up in the area.
HS2’s Tier One construction partners based in Greater London: Skanska Costain STRABAG (SCS JV), Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA (BBVS JV), Align JV and Mace Dragados JV, confirmed that they will collectively recruit over 10,000 new jobs as HS2 gears up for major construction.
HS2 itself is already directly recruiting for 500 new roles over the next three months, with the majority based in Birmingham, as the project moves into the construction phase. The forecast jobs boost is a clear sign of the key part that HS2 is already playing in supporting Britain’s post-coronavirus economic recovery.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today marks a major milestone in this government’s ambitions to build back better from Covid-19.
“Shovels in the ground to deliver this new railway means thousands of jobs building the future of our country’s infrastructure. This fantastic moment is what leaders across the North and Midlands have called for – action to level up our country by boosting capacity on our railways, improving connections between our regions, and spreading prosperity.”
Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said: “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.
“We are already seeing the benefits that building HS2 is bringing to the UK economy in the short term, but it’s important to emphasise how transformative the railway will be for our country when operational. With the start of construction, the reality of hig- speed journeys joining up Britain’s biggest cities in the North and Midlands and using that connectivity to help level up the country has just moved a step closer.”
The industry reacted favourably to the news. Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “It is great news that HS2 has announced it is moving into its main construction phase today.
“HS2 is a fantastic long-term opportunity for the UK, delivering jobs and investment for towns and communities across the country, connecting up eight out of the UK’s ten major cities, serving over 25 stations and connecting around 30 million people. It will also spur much needed economic growth at an essential time for the economy. The rail industry stands ready to deliver HS2 and support the national effort to ‘build back better’.”
Rail union TSSA, which has been arguing for the HS2 project to continue right through to Scotland in order to reap the full benefits of high-speed travel and connectivity, also welcomed the announcement and encouraged new recruits to “join our TSSA family”.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “This is an important moment for Britain’s railways. HS2 will bring much needed capacity to our creaking rail infrastructure and significantly boost investment in green transport.
“We wish all applicants for jobs at HS2 the very best of luck and of course, we also encourage them to join our TSSA family as we are their rail union. I really look forward to having them on-board.”