The Government has given its formal approval for construction work on the HS2 high-speed rail project to begin despite the coronavirus lockdown. The ‘Notice to proceed’ process marks formal approval for main construction works to begin, following decision earlier this year to proceed with the project
Construction work will be carried out in line with Public Health England advice during the coronavirus outbreak. Companies involved building in phase one of the high-speed rail project will thus have to follow social distancing rules.
HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said: “We cannot delay work on our long-term plan to level up the country.”
Mark Thurston, Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd, said: “The issuing of notice to proceed today ensures that our contractors and their supply chains have the confidence that they can commit to building HS2, generating thousands of skilled jobs across the country as we recover from the pandemic.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) said the decision to proceed was taken after “careful consideration” of the independent Oakervee review.
The Prime Minister confirmed to Parliament in February 2020 that the project should go ahead to deliver improvements to capacity and connectivity across the Midlands and North. Boris Johnson also announced a reform package to improve governance at HS2 to ensure the project is delivered better and more efficiently.
The DfT says that a time when the construction sector faces uncertainties during the coronavirus outbreak, issuing ‘Notice to proceed’ provides will act as a vote of confidence in construction companies and the wider supply chain supporting HS2.
HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “While the government’s top priority is rightly to combat the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives, we cannot delay work on our long-term plan to level up the country.
“HS2 will be the spine of the country’s transport network, boosting capacity and connectivity while also rebalancing opportunity fairly across our towns and cities.”
“Following the decision earlier this year to proceed with the project, this next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it, and means that work can truly begin on delivering this transformational project.”
The four work packages are for full detailed design and construction of Phase One of the HS2 railway. The joint ventures, originally awarded contracts by HS2 Ltd in July 2017, are:
As well as the contracts awarded today, the DfT has published the new full business case High Speed 2 Phase One, which sets out the strategic and economic case for the project and outlines how it will deliver a positive return on investment, alongside boosting capacity and connectivity needed in towns and cities across the country, delivering on the government’s levelling up agenda.
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