Full speed ahead for HS2 as phase one of rail link receives Royal Assent to start construction

Construction work on phase one of the £55 billion HS2 high-speed railway will get underway in the spring after the project received Royal Assent.

After three years of Parliamentary scrutiny, the controversial Hybrid Bill for Britain's biggest infrastructure scheme was given a "massive boost" today, paving the way for new rail links that will increase capacity and connect cities.

Expected to take nine years to complete, phase one between London and Birmingham will open in 2026. It will create 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships during construction and support growth in the wider economy, worth an additional 100,000 jobs.

The second phase linking Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh will be completed by 2033.

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."

David Higgins, chairman of HS2 said: "Achieving Royal Assent for Phase One of HS2 between Birmingham and London with such significant parliamentary support, is a monumental step in transforming rail travel in Britain.

"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. 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."

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