The UK’s HS2 has officially commenced construction works to build the high-speed rail project that will eventually connect London, the Midlands and the North.

The move comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) granted its approval to HS2 in April to issue a Notice to Proceed (NtP) to the four Main Works Civils Contractors (MWCCs).

The NtP enabled the contractors to advance with the construction works of HS2 Phase One, which involves building a high-speed rail line from London to West Midlands.

Under Phase One, the project is expected to create around 22,000 jobs, particularly at a time when the UK economy is recovering from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better – and with construction now formally underway, it’s set to create around 22,000 new jobs.

“As the spine of our country’s transport network, the project will be vital in boosting connectivity between our towns and cities.”

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Once the first phase of the project is complete, HS2 will enable high-speed train operations between London and Birmingham on 134 miles of dedicated track. The route will feature more than 30 miles of tunnels and around ten miles of viaducts.

It is expected to cost up to £45bn and will become operational between 2029 and 2033.

HS2 CEO Mark Thurston said: “After ten years of development and preparatory work, today, we can formally announce the start of full construction, unlocking thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities across the project.

“We are already seeing the benefits that building HS2 is bringing to the UK economy in the short term, but it’s important to emphasise how transformative the railway will be for our country when operational.

“With the start of construction, the reality of high-speed journeys joining up Britain’s biggest cities in the North and Midlands and using that connectivity to help level up the country has just moved a step closer.”

Last month, HS2 signed an agreement with the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) to facilitate innovation.