British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday formally launched the construction work on the long-anticipated major infrastructure project, the HS2 rail link.
Around 22,000 workers are expected to be hired to build phase one of the rail link, between London and Birmingham in the Midlands region of England.
“As the spine of our country’s transport network, the project will be vital in boosting connectivity between our towns and cities. But HS2’s transformational potential goes even further,” said Johnson.
“By creating hundreds of apprenticeships and thousands of skilled jobs, HS2 will fire up economic growth and help to rebalance opportunity across this country for years to come,” he added.
Mark Thurston, CEO of HS2 Ltd, said: “After 10 years of development and preparatory work, we can formally announce the start of full construction, unlocking thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities across the project.”
According to HS2 Ltd, an estimated 4000,000 supply chain contract opportunities for British businesses will be created during phase one of the project. It is estimated that around 95 percent of those contract opportunities will be won by UK-based businesses and around two thirds of those will be small and medium sized businesses.
The second phase will continue HS2 from Birmingham towards two major cities in northern England, Manchester and Leeds.
The project has generated mixed feelings across the country between supporters and opponents. Critics point to the spiralling bill for the rail link, now more than double what the project was predicted to cost when it was first announced.
An official government report has warned that the project could cost more than 100 billion pounds (about 132 billion U.S. dollars) and be up to five years behind schedule, according to the BBC.