The hybrid bill for phase one of the HS2 scheme passed its third reading in the Commons yesterday evening (23rd March 2016) with MPs voting 399 in favour and 42 against. The Bill will now pass to the House of Lords. Subject to completing its parliamentary passage, construction remains on course to begin in 2017.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Once again Parliament has backed HS2 and brought this vital new railway one step closer to reality. British contractors are now bidding to build the line, British apprentices are waiting to work on it and British cities are waiting to benefit from it.
“We expect HS2 to begin construction next year. As we enter this new phase I make three pledges: we will work closely with those communities affected by the HS2 route, we will keep a firm grip on costs and we will drive maximum value for money from this new railway.”
Civil engineering contractors welcomed the news. Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), said: “Today’s news represents a major milestone for this once in a generation project, and will do much to boost industry’s confidence in the scheme.
“HS2 will form the backbone of Britain’s transport infrastructure in the 21st century, supporting nationwide growth and prosperity.
“At the same time, HS2 must be part of a wide-ranging approach to renewing the UK’s infrastructure. Following on from today’s news, CECA would like to see progress on the delivery of the second phase of HS2, which will drive growth in the north of England, and underpin the Northern Powerhouse.
“The fact that HS2 has secured cross-party support mean industry has the confidence to plan for and deliver this transformative scheme on time and on budget.”
Yesterday HS2 Ltd published the shortlist of contractors for seven phase one civils contracts worth £11.8bn in total. [See our report on that here.]