High Speed 2 (HS2) has announced the shortlist of companies that will contribute to the railway’s construction.
The shortlist includes nine bidders looking to pick up between £7.1bn and £11.8bn worth of civil engineering work between London and Crewe.
The government claims the new projects will create ‘up to’ 14,600 jobs and apprenticeships across the UK.
The release follows last week’s budget which gave the green light to HS3 and backing for a number of major transport infrastructure projects, including the high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds, and Crossrail 2 for London.
In addition to the civil engineering contracts, the government has also started formal tendering for up to £900m worth of ‘enabling works’ and the procurement of several million trees which will be planted alongside the new railway lines.
The contracts are expected to be signed in the autumn, providing time for trees to be grown and ready for planting throughout the construction period.
Civil engineering contracts covering the 140 miles from London to Birmingham are expected to be signed in 2017, with the start of work on site one year later.
The government will allow firms that deliver the best results in terms of value and efficiency to bid for work on an additional 40 miles between Birmingham and Crewe, due to open in 2027.
“Today’s announcements are a major milestone for the project,” said HS2 chief executive Simon Kirby.
“Over the next 10 years HS2 will help create tens of thousands of job opportunities, build specialist skills and expertise across the country and create at least 2,000 new apprenticeships.
“Collaboration will be at the heart of everything we do. Together with our suppliers, we will create these opportunities while continuing to push for the best value and long term efficiency that will be essential to delivering this transformational project on time and on budget.”
Transport minister Robert Goodwill said the project would create thousands of jobs during the construction phase and would help to "rebalance our economy long before trains start running in 2026".
The shortlist of companies includes:
- Align JV
- Balfour Beatty
- Momentum Infrastructure