The HS2 Phase 2a: High-Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Bill has been given Royal Assent (11 Feb) signifying the Government’s commitment to bring the new high-speed railway to the north.
The act of Parliament was passed exactly 1 year after ministers gave the project the go-ahead and will allow HS2 Ltd to begin work to construct the next phase of the railway between Crewe and Birmingham, creating thousands of jobs.
Construction of the first stage of the project between the West Midlands and London is already underway and now supporting more than 15,000 jobs and 50 apprenticeships.
Now that the Phase 2a Bill has been signed into law, HS2 Ltd will be able to start ecological works along the route with construction expected to begin on this section by 2024.
Construction of Phase 2a is expected to support around 5,000 jobs, with many more in the supply chain. Also, the railway will support 140 permanent jobs at its maintenance base near Stone in Staffordshire.
It comes after HS2 Ltd marked National Apprenticeship Week this week by announcing that it will be directly recruiting for 30 new apprentices to join the company in September 2021.
The announcement comes together with the launch of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s HS2 Growth Strategy, which outlines how the new railway could generate 175,000 jobs and £20 billion investment in the region.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Whatever your view of this project, HS2 is now a reality – heading north, creating jobs and building a brighter future for our country. This vital project is at the heart of the government’s commitments to build back better from the pandemic, tackle the north-south divide and drive growth across the country.
“The signing of the Phase 2a Bill into law is a historic milestone for this ambitious project, which is already creating and supporting thousands of jobs across the UK. I look forward to seeing spades in the ground to get this section built and deliver the benefits of high-speed rail to the north as swiftly as possible.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “HS2 was always going to be a game-changer for the West Midlands, but the jobs and economic aspect of the scheme has taken on even more significance in light of the pandemic.
“HS2 will be a key anchor of the region’s recovery plans, with our latest research suggesting the knock-on effect of HS2 could eventually generate 175,000 jobs and more than £20 billion of investment.
“These are extraordinary numbers, which shows just how critical it was to win the argument for HS2. With thousands in the West Midlands already employed and working on the project, HS2 is making a critical difference to people’s livelihoods right now.”
Councillor Craig Browne, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “This is a hugely important milestone in bringing high-speed rail to Crewe. HS2 is a strategically important project and will drive increased business confidence to invest in Crewe – creating opportunities to not only enhance the town, but also the wider borough, through the jobs, services and improved opportunities it can provide.
“We are committed to maximising the significant benefits the scheme will bring and it is more important than ever as we support our local economy to bounce back from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Working with our strategic partners, we are continuing to push forward with multiple projects to transform Crewe and the wider area, and ensure it is ready for HS2’s arrival, including our proposals for Crewe Hub station.”
Images: HS2 Ltd