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Mixed Year for HS2

It’s been a mixed year for HS2. The biggest headline came with the publishing of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan which defied expectations by scrapping much of the eastern leg. However below the headlines the project chugs along with the construction of Phase 1 and Royal Assent for Phase 2a being given.

Phase 1 of HS2 takes the line from London to Birmingham and is expected to be completed in 2031. This year tunnelling began on Phase 1 with ‘Florence’, a 2,000 tonne boring machine beginning work in May starting work under the Chilterns.

Phase 2a which will extend the line from Birmingham to Crewe gained Royal Assent on the 11th of February 2021. Early environmental works for this phase are expected to begin in 2022. After this comes Phase 2b which will connect Crewe and Manchester. A Bill for this phase is expected to be introduced in Parliament in 2022.

This progress may seem like cold comfort to those in Leeds and Bradford who were expecting to be connected via the high speed network.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor for West Yorkshire, said on release of the Integrated Rail Plan which axed the route: “It’s a betrayal of the North and a betrayal of the people I represent.”

On a lighter note, while excavating ahead of Phase 1 works in Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire two complete Roman Statues were found on the site of an abandoned medieval church. It’s believed that before the church was constructed it could have been a Roman mausoleum.

 Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said: “It has been a year of major moments for HS2 – from the start of tunnelling, to hitting 20,000 jobs, to awarding the contract to build our trains – 2021 really showed the incredible momentum on Britain’s biggest infrastructure project.”

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