Royal assent for HS2

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The hybrid bill for Phase One of HS2, which will deliver a high-speed rail link between London and the West Midlands, has received royal assent.

Royal assent is the final legislative hurdle for this phase of the project, allowing construction of the railway to begin this year as planned.

The bill successfully negotiated its third reading in the House of Lords at the end of January and royal assent was expected soon after.

Preparatory works will now get underway and, according to HS2, the main construction works should start next year.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Getting the go-ahead to start building HS2 is a massive boost to the UK’s future economic prosperity and a further clear signal that Britain is open for business.

“HS2 will be the world’s most advanced passenger railway and the backbone of our rail network. Royal assent is a major step towards significantly increasing capacity on our congested railways for both passengers and freight; improving connections between the biggest cities and regions; generating jobs, skills and economic growth and helping build an economy that works for all.

“By investing in infrastructure the Government is seizing the opportunity provided by leaving the EU to build a more global Britain. We will now press ahead with constructing the railway while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.”

Phase One is expected to open to passengers in 2026. The next part of the project, Phase 2a, will extend the line from Birmingham to Crewe. This will be followed by Phase 2b which will extend the line to Manchester in the North West and through the East Midlands and South Yorkshire to Leeds on the other side of the Pennines.

The legislation for both Phase 2a, which is scheduled to be completed by 2027, and Phase 2b, which will open in 2033, will be presented to MPs and peers over the course of the next couple of years.

“We have a long journey ahead of us to build the railway and secure permission for Phase Two to make sure that the full benefits of HS2 are realised,” said David Higgins, chairman of HS2.

“This journey will see businesses right along the route benefit from greater access to the skills, markets and professional services they need to succeed in today’s global market. It will directly create some 25,000 jobs as well as forcing the pace of innovation in the construction industry.

“Throughout this process HS2 remains committed to mitigating the environmental impacts whilst continuing to engage with each individual community which is making sacrifices to enable a 21st century railway network to be built in Britain.”

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