The man in charge of HS2 has talked about the “thousands of opportunities for businesses” which the high-speed network has started to bring and will continue to do for years to come.
Speaking to more than 160 business representatives from firms throughout Scotland at an event in Glasgow, Mark Thurston was attempting to encourage more businesses to get on board with the project, while discussing the huge amount of job and skills opportunities for people in Scotland.
Hosted by Scottish Enterprise, industry leaders turned up to find out more about the work packages available and how they can position themselves to be part of the team building the UK’s new high speed rail line.
HS2’s chief executive officer illustrated the size of the scheme and reiterated the thousands of opportunities within the HS2 supply chain that are across many business sectors and require a wide range of capabilities, over a number of years that will be suitable for suppliers of all types and sizes.
HS2 trains are scheduled to arrive in Scotland from 2026, bringing journey times from London to Glasgow to below four hours for the first time. If and when the full Y network opens in 2033, journey times between London and Edinburgh and London and Glasgow will fall to 3 hours 40 minutes, and connections with Birmingham and the North West of England will be improved.
The organisation say work is well underway with already 62 live sites, servicing over 250 work locations across Phase One. Progress is being made on land clearance, habitat creation, tree planting, demolitions, archaeology, road improvement works, utility diversions and compound creation, to prepare for the new railway.
Speaking to the event in Glasgow, Thurston said: “The HS2 project is a once in a lifetime opportunity for firms from Scotland to get involved and help deliver Britain’s new high speed railway. The scale and longevity of the project means that there will be thousands of opportunities for businesses available. We’re looking for everything from engineering to catering services, designers to ecologists, and concrete to electronic components. It is not just about track and trains. I encourage any business interested in working on HS2 to look out for the opportunities on offer.”
Supply chain opportunities will be a plenty, according to bosses with it expected that every 10 direct tier one major works contracts resulting in over 10,000 indirect supply chain opportunities. There are 2,000 companies already supporting the project, with over 70% of these SMEs.
Scottish Enterprise portfolio director for high value manufacturing, Julia Brown, said: “Along with our partner government agencies, we are keen to support and encourage companies to access the £600 billion UK pipeline for infrastructure spend over the next 10 years. Clearly there is a keen interest in Scotland with over 160 delegates from over 100 companies coming to Glasgow to meet with HS2 and we encourage all companies interested to engage with us, access support and be competition ready.”