High-speed rail project has ‘incredible momentum’ for 2022

HS2 has “incredible momentum” as it enters 2022 after a “year of great moments”, according to the high-speed rail project boss.

Mark Thurston, Managing Director of HS2 Ltd, said significant construction events, contract awards and employment milestones were achieved in 2021.

Also on HS2:

The year began with legislation for Phase 2a of the railway – extending the line from Birmingham to Crewe – clearing its final hurdle, clearing the way for construction to begin.

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In May, a £570million contract to build HS2’s Curzon Street station in Birmingham was awarded to a joint venture between engineering firms Mace and Dragados.

It’s built to operate carbon-free once opened, incorporating eco-friendly design and sustainable technologies like rainwater capture.

Also in May, HS2 launched its first giant tunnel boring machine from a site in Buckinghamshire near the M25 motorway.

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The 558ft (170m) long rig is one of two machines digging a 10-mile (16km) pair of tunnels under the Chiltern Hills.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has given the go-ahead for permanent construction work to begin at the site of Old Oak Common station in west London in June. It will be the UK’s largest single-stage railway station.

In September, HS2 celebrated the milestone of 20,000 jobs supported by the project.

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The following month, archaeologists digging on the HS2 road discovered a set of Roman sculptures in an abandoned medieval church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire.

The final stage of HS2 in 2021 saw contracts worth around £2 billion handed over to a joint bid between Hitachi and Alstom to design, build and maintain a fleet of 54 HS2 trains.

Mr Thurston said: “It has been a year of major moments for HS2.

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“From the start of tunneling, to the creation of 20,000 jobs, to the awarding of the contract to build our trains, 2021 has truly shown the incredible momentum of Britain’s largest infrastructure project .

“HS2 is moving forward, creating jobs, improving skills, benefiting UK businesses and building a high-capacity, low-carbon railway that will change the way we travel in Britain.”

But the project also encountered significant difficulties.

Environmental activists have caused disruption at several sites on Phase 1 of the line between London and Birmingham.

This included a group digging a network of tunnels in London’s Euston Square Gardens which required an expensive operation in January and February to remove them.

The government announced in November that the eastern branch of HS2 between Leeds and the East Midlands had been axed.

Ministers insisted that similar journey time improvements could be achieved faster by running HS2 trains on existing lines.

Plans for 2022 include the start of construction of the Colne Valley Viaduct in the north-west outskirts of London in the spring.

It will be the UK’s longest rail bridge at 2.1 miles.

Work on the country’s first major green tunnel – which involves digging a tunnel and then restoring the land over it to blend into the landscape – begins in March.

Separately, machines will start digging tunnels in London in 2022, while earth movement in the central section of Phase 1 will be accelerated from the summer.

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