More than 2000 people have registered for the event, which will highlight contracts that will be available in the coming months and explain how businesses can prepare to bid.

Construction on the 225km HS2 Phase 1 from London to Birmingham and Lichfield formally began in September, after receiving approval from parliament in February.

HS2 Ltd says 78% of the registrations for the event are from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), spanning a range of business specialisms including logistics, electrical engineering, fencing and accommodation providers.

The four-day programme is being delivered in partnership with HS2’s four main works construction partners, which between them will offer thousands of individual work packages of various sizes valued between £5000 and £200m.

The first session was launched with an introduction from HS2 minister, Mr Andrew Stephenson. The agenda for the first three days consists of 24 opt-in webinars, delivered by more than 60 presenters, which will allow delegates to learn about the HS2 project, HS2 Ltd’s procurement processes and the programme of works its contractors are undertaking.

The final day will allow more than 1000 potential suppliers to meet one-on-one with HS2’s construction partners, which seeking new entrants into supply chains to deliver their 2021-22 work packages.

HS2 Ltd says it has so far awarded 98% of its current contracts to British-based businesses, 70% of which have been won by SMEs, and the developer is aiming to continue this trend through direct engagement with suppliers and local business during the event.

“HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better from Covid-19 by firing up economic growth and creating tens of thousands of skilled jobs right across the country,” Stephenson says. “This marks a very important moment for this project as it opens up £12bn worth of supply chain contracts, creating immediate opportunities and providing certainty for British businesses when they need it most.”

“The government has said that construction must continue during the lockdown, and for HS2 that means continuing to bring more and more companies onto the project, creating thousands of jobs across Britain,” says HS2 Ltd CEO, Mr Mark Thurston. “This event will unlock billions of pounds worth of new contract opportunities on HS2, providing thousands of businesses and their employees with guaranteed incomes, and helping the country’s economic recovery in these uncertain times.”

Phase 2a

HS2 Ltd also tendered the first major works contract for Phase 2a from Birmingham to Crewe.

The new £50m programme, Early Civils Work - Package 2 (ECW2), includes a range of enabling works designed to reduce disruption during the main build stage of the project. This includes major highways works and associated utility diversions as well as a range of environmental and other surveys along the 58km route.

HS2 has already begun a detailed programme of ground investigation along the Phase 2a route. The developer also confirmed that the latest package, worth £25-30m, has been awarded to Balfour Beatty.

Draft legislation seeking powers to build operate and maintain HS2 Phase 2a are currently proceeding through parliament, with royal assent anticipated during the winter.

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