Around 22,000 new jobs are set to be created as construction work begins on Phase One of HS2, the UK’s second high-speed rail link that will run between London and the West Midlands.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said the start of the construction phase is at the centre of plans to ‘build back better’ but detractors believe it will permanently displace thousands of jobs.
In April this year the Department for Transport (DfT) approved HS2 Ltd’s Notice to Proceed to the four Main Works Civils Contractors working on the project. This allowed them to commence full detailed design and construction of Phase One of HS2, which is estimated to cost between £35bn-45bn.
In a statement Johnson said: “By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come.”
HS2’s main works contractor for the West Midlands, the Balfour Beatty VINCI Joint Venture (BBV JV), along with its supply chain partners, said it expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the West Midlands over the next two years, with up to 7,000 jobs required to complete its section of the HS2 route. The EKFB Joint Venture (Eiffage, Kier, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial) – building the section from the Long Itchington Wood site in Warwickshire south to the Chiltern tunnel portals, will recruit over 4,000 roles in the next two years.
HS2’s Tier One construction partners based in Greater London – Skanska Costain STRABAG (SCS JV), Balfour Beatty VINCI SYSTRA (BBVS JV), Align JV and Mace Dragados JV – will collectively recruit over 10,000 new jobs as HS2 gears up for major construction. HS2 Ltd is recruiting for 500 new roles over the next three months.
An estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will be created during Phase One of HS2, with around 95 per cent of those likely to be won by UK-based businesses.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said: “Trying to spin HS2 as a job creation scheme is beyond desperate, as even if you take the governments low estimate of cost for Phase One of HS2, creating 22,000 jobs works out at almost two million pounds just to create a single job, at a time when well-run businesses are going under every day, and Boris Johnson is rather less keen to mention the 19,590 jobs that HS2 will permanently displace.
“We’ve spent 10 years trying to tell tin-eared politicians that working practices will change in the future and drastically reduce the need for travel, and even now it’s happened right in front of their eyes, they refuse to accept it.”