The act, which received strong cross-party support throughout its Commons and Lords stages, allows expenditure on essential preparatory work, including construction design, on Phase One and Phase Two of HS2 and all future phases of a high speed rail network.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is a major milestone in the HS2 project. The new north-south railway needs cross party backing, so I am very pleased that MPs representing constituencies across the country and Peers from all 3 main parties have again given a clear signal of support.
“Receiving Royal Assent for this act on schedule provides the public and businesses further reassurance of our determination to drive forward and deliver HS2 as quickly as possible.”
The hybrid Bill to enable construction will be introduced into Parliament for its first reading on Monday. It is this bill that will ultimately give government the powers to construct and operate the railway.
The paving Act will allow expenditure to be incurred on:
- undertaking more detailed design work
- letting contracts for designing the construction of the line
- designing the realignment of existing railway
- planning the movement of utilities
- carrying out ground investigation and ecological surveys
- making compensation payments to homeowners.
HS2 will involve laying 351 miles of new track linking London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. Construction is targeted to begin in 2017. Phase 1 is scheduled to open in 2026 and Phase 2 in 2033.