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£6.6billion in HS2 contracts … and that’s just the start

Extra capacity: The Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct, part of the proposed route for HS2 PICTURE: PA

A TOTAL of £6.6billion worth of contracts for building the first stage of the high speed rail line between London and Birmingham is being awarded by the Department for Transport today.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is also expected to reveal plans and routes for the later phases of HS2 between the Midlands, Manchester and Leeds.

Around 16,000 jobs will be supported by today’s contracts for the first stage, which is due to be running by 2026.

As many as 25,000 people will be directly employed by HS2, with growth around the network’s stations supporting four times as many jobs.

HS2 trains are expected to carry up to 300,000 passengers a day, freeing up thousands of seats on local services. It could help double the number of seats on rush-hour services leaving Manchester and Leeds and potentially double the number of seats available from London to Peterborough.

‘Anyone travelling to work by train will know we desperately need extra capacity,’ said Mr Grayling. ‘Demand for rail travel is rocketing and our ageing infrastructure is struggling to cope.’

He is expected to bring forward the planned completion date for the next phase from the West Midlands to the West Coast Mainline from 2033 to 2027.

‘This is a huge day for the HS2 project and for the country,’ said HS2 chairman David Higgins. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that government calculations indicate HS2 will be the most expensive railway in the world, costing up to £403million a mile.