The notice on April 15 follows the government’s commitment to the project in February having considered the findings of the independent Oakervee Review and other advice. The DfT says that at a time when the construction sector faces uncertainties during the coronavirus outbreak, issuing the notice to proceed provides a vote of confidence in construction companies and the wider supply chain supporting HS2.

“Following the decision earlier this year to proceed with the project, this next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it, and means that work can truly begin on delivering this transformational project,” says HS2 minister, Mr Andrew Stephenson.

Four joint ventures were awarded construction contracts for the project in July 2017 and will now be able to proceed with work in line with the government’s guidance around construction work continuing during the coronavirus outbreak. They are:

  • SCS Railways (Skanska Construction UK, Costain, Strabag)
  • Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics SAS, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, a subsidiary of VolkerWessels UK)
  • EKBF JV (Eiffage Genie Civil, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman), and
  • BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Vinci Construction UK, Vinci Construction Terrassement).

Work to date has focused on scheme design and site preparation, including pricing and scoping, for the civil works. Work on progressing detailed design as well as continuing site preparation works and awarding critical sub-contracts. The project is expected to create 400,000 supply chain opportunities.

“HS2 has been over 10 years in development and design,” says Mr Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd. “While the country’s focus is rightly on defeating Covid-19, the issuing of a Notice to Proceed today ensures that our contractors and their supply chains have the confidence that they can commit to building HS2, generating thousands of skilled jobs across the country as we recover from the pandemic.”

Full Business Case

The DfT also published a new Full Business Case for HS2 Phase One on April 15, updating the previous case which was published in 2013. The document's findings reaffirm the strategic and economic case for the project and outline how it will deliver a positive return on investment.

The business case says Phase One of the project will have a staged opening, with services set to begin between Old Oak Common, a temporary west London terminus, between 2029 and 2033. The report says that beginning operation at Old Oak Common will ensure that identifying an optimised solution for London Euston will not delay the project

The business case also confirms the latest cost estimates for phase one at £35-45bn, including contingency, with the government targeting delivery of phase one for £40bn. Phase One has a central-case benefit:cost ratio of 1.2:1. This increases to 1.5:1 when Phases 2a and 2b are included.

The analysis finds that introducing HS2 will result in an improvement to the annual subsidy-premium balance for Britain’s railways, benefitting the taxpayer. The report says it is too early to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on long-term demand for rail travel and whether it will materially impact the value for money of HS2.

In addition, the strategic case finds that alternative interventions to address a lack of capacity on the West Coast Main Line could accommodate expected increases in demand but would not provide a lasting solution. It says that HS2 trains will serve 25 stations across Britain, running up to 18 trains per hour, each with capacity for 1100 people with the service expected to transport 300,000 passengers each day and 100 million per year. “None of the alternative schemes that have been examined are able to deliver the same kind of capacity benefits,” the report says.

To view the complete document, click here.

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