HS2 has claimed that 9,000 jobs are currently being supported around the country, with “work on the route from London to Birmingham continuing to gather pace, with activity on over 250 work sites.”
They also say that over 2,000 firms across the UK now have contracts with HS2, 70% of them SMEs and 98% of them British. At peak construction, HS2 say that over 30,000 people will be needed to design and build the railway and that, since Royal Assent in 2017, there have been 324 apprenticeships within HS2 Ltd and the supply chain.
Activity across the first phase of the route is part of HS2’s enabling works. These are designed to prepare the way for viaducts, embankments, stations and ultimately the railway line itself. Works include land clearance, demolitions, tree planting, archaeology, utility diversions, and environmental mitigations, and much of this is centred around HS2’s new station sites in Birmingham, Old Oak Common and Euston.
Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “At its peak HS2 will directly provide 30,000 jobs, not only on the route but across the UK, and when ready will deliver the vital extra capacity – both new intercity capacity and in the space it releases for freight and intra-urban commuter services on existing lines – and connections needed to not only drive productivity growth but to deliver regeneration across the Midlands, north of England and beyond.”
Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, said: “HS2 is more than a railway, it’s also an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for the country. The jobs and skills that we will create in every corner of the country will give us an industry to be proud of and one that we can export to other countries. As work gathers pace on the project, the jobs and opportunities for British businesses to get involved mean the benefits are here and now. Britain once led the world in railway engineering, and it can once again be at its forefront through HS2.”
Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at CBI, said: “HS2 is a critical piece of national infrastructure, central to the country’s future prosperity. It offers a golden opportunity to boost economies across the North and Midlands, creating thousands of new jobs, both during construction and for years to come, by attracting investment from home and abroad.”
The news comes just weeks after a highly critical report on HSE by a House of Lords committee, saying that too many unanswered questions remain around the project in terms of rail investment priorities, the business case and spiralling costs.