HS2, the UK's high-speed rail project, is preparing to enter a crucial new chapter in 2024, it has revealed. It is gearing up to award £5 billion worth of contracts in 2024 to build the tracks, power systems, signalling, and a state-of-the-art control centre for the new railway between London and the West Midlands.
This marks a significant shift for the project, which has so far focused on the mammoth civil engineering feats – tunnels, bridges, and embankments – that span the 140-mile route. However, 2024 will see it turn its focus to building the intricate systems that will make this railway tick.
This move comes seven years after HS2 received Parliament's green light and after the shelving of HS2’s Phase 2 north of Birmingham. But despite the setbacks, HS2 remains the UK's biggest infrastructure project.
Eleven contracts for the railway systems are up for grabs in 2024, offering opportunities for the UK's construction, engineering, and rail sectors. These include contracts for the track system, high-tech signalling, high-voltage power system, and the project's "nerve centre" – a 30-hectare site housing the rolling stock maintenance depot and network control centre.
The contracts will also be for the design, logistics and installation of the track system – as well as a maintenance depot at Calvert in Buckinghamshire – that will carry HS2 services at speeds of up to 225mph.
Formal work is also due to take place on the Curzon Street station in Birmingham and the breakthrough of the longest tunnel on the line, the Chilterns tunnel later in the year.
Physical construction of many parts of HS2's rail system is expected to begin from 2026/7, marking the culmination of years of planning and construction.
"This is a project of phenomenal scale and ambition, and we're immensely proud of the progress made between London and the West Midlands throughout 2023," said Sir Jon Thompson, HS2 Ltd's Executive Chair. "There will be no let-up in delivery in 2024."
“The transition in our focus towards railway systems represents another significant milestone and will edge us ever closer towards bringing this transformational project to life.”
Once complete, HS2 will slash travel time between London Euston and Birmingham and free up space on the congested West Coast Main Line.
Photo Credit: HS2