HS2 contracts worth £6.6bn announced

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The official unveiling of the northern leg of the project comes on the same day as two other major announcements for the future of high-speed rail in the United Kingdom: construction contracts worth £6.6bn were awarded to a number of companies, and the shortlists for the designers and engineers who will deliver three brand new stations and majorly expand London Euston.

Nine bids were shortlisted for the project's major contracts with the work valued at around £6.6bn and estimated to support 16,000 jobs.

HS2 is a 190 kilometre high speed line linking London with Birmingham and the West Coast Main Line near Lichfield and is planned to open in 2026.

Contractors have been appointed to the project, with Balfour Beatty and VINCI Construction securing work on the first section of the route. With preparatory works already underway on phase one, the DfT says main construction work will start in 2018/19.

Both the design and master plan contracts will be awarded in the early part of next year. "Building HS2 will create vital new capacity on our rail lines, giving inter-city customers a faster and more reliable service and freeing up space on local lines, making everybody's journeys more comfortable and convenient".

The final route for the second phase, the Y-shaped network towards Manchester and Leeds, will also be confirmed, including changes to the original proposed route around Sheffield. This includes working with HS2 Ltd, Network Rail, the station design contract victor and local authorities to deliver a unified masterplan to unlock the full potential of the area.

Grayling said: "This is a hugely important step in the construction of Britain's new railway".

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The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: "Britain's new railway line will bring huge economic benefits across the country and help ensure this government delivers on its promise to spread wealth beyond London and the south-east".

"As well as providing desperately needed new seats and better connecting our major cities, HS2 will help rebalance our economy", Grayling added.

"Business now has the surety to invest with confidence to build a legacy for Britain".

Ministers suggested in November past year that the line should serve the existing Sheffield city centre station, after proposals to run trains to the Meadowhall shopping centre were shelved.

"HS2 was always created to be much more than just a high speed railway and today we can see the opportunities it brings right around the country - spreading prosperity, acting as a catalyst for investment and rebalancing our economy ten years before the railway even opens". HS2 is a real opportunity for British steel to shine.

This will mean the demolition of a new housing estate in Mexborough, leading to outrage from residents that had moved in just months before.

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