November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
The first phase of the High Speed 2 rail project has been given final approval by the House of Commons clearing the way for construction to start next year.
MPs voted by 399 to 42 in favour of the HS2 bill, which means it will now be sent to the House of Lords for its approval.
If the House of Lords gives the green light to the project, then construction is due to begin on the line between London and Birmingham in 2017. The first phase of HS2 is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2026.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Once again, Parliament has backed HS2 and brought this vital new railway one step closer to reality. British contractors are now bidding to build the line, British apprentices are waiting to work on it and British cities are waiting to benefit from it.
“We expect HS2 to begin construction next year. As we enter this new phase I make three pledges: we will work closely with those communities affected by the HS2 route, we will keep a firm grip on costs and we will drive maximum value for money from this new railway.”
The second phase of HS2 will see the high-speed track extended northwards from Birmingham in a “Y-shape” to both Manchester and Leeds. This part of the project is due to be operational by 2033 with the exact route of phase two to be announced by the government later this year.
The entire HS2 project is expected to cost £55.7 billion, based on 2015 prices.
“HS2 is a major commitment of public money, but it is an investment which Britain must make and can afford to make,” said McLoughlin.
“The cost of HS2 equates to around 0.14 per cent of UKGDP in the spending review period. But this is about the future of our nation - a bold new piece of infrastructure that will open to passengers in just 10 years’ time.”
McLoughin added that “a huge amount of work” had been carried out over the last two years to assess the environmental impact of HS2.
“HS2 Ltd has started work to procure up to seven million trees to be planted alongside the line and help blend it in with the landscape,” he said.