JVs including 7 firms have picked up the first enabling packages covering three sections of the 1st phase route from London to Birmingham.
Preparations will now start immediately and will involve negotiating to agree demolition, diversion of major utilities and other preparatory works.
The works also include archaeological investigations, site clearance and the setting up of construction compounds ahead of the start of the main civil engineering work. The awards come over 2 months later than planned, with firms having initially expected a decision by HS2 in August.
Balfour Beatty’s venture with Vinci and a consortium of Carillion/Eiffage/Kier bid for all three sections but missed out on the first packages.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today also confirmed the majority of the preferred HS2 route from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds.
On the western leg, HS2 will continue north from Crewe to Manchester Airport and on to Manchester city centre, where a new HS2 station will be built next to Manchester Piccadilly.
There will also be a connection to Liverpool and to the existing West Coast main line allowing HS2 services to continue north, serving stations to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
On the eastern leg, HS2 will continue from the West Midlands to Toton in the East Midlands, where a new HS2 station will be built to serve Nottingham, Derby and the wider region.
It will then continue north from the East Midlands to South Yorkshire.
In line with HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins’ recommendation, the Government has agreed HS2 should serve Sheffield with a connection to the existing station with the main route moved further east than first planned.
There will now be further consultation on this route alteration before a final decision is made next year.
From South Yorkshire, HS2 will continue to Leeds where a new station will be built in Leeds city centre, adjacent to the existing station.
HS2 will also have a connection onto the East Coast Main Line, allowing HS2 to serve York, Newcastle and other places in the north-east.
“The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory.”