UK awards $8.7 billion worth of contracts for 250mph rail line

Key Points
  • $8.7 billion of civil engineering contracts announced.
  • The first phase of HS2 planned for completion in 2026.
  • Trains on the line capable of reaching 250 mph.
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

The British government has awarded £6.6 billion ($8.7 bn) worth of construction contracts to build a new high-speed train line connecting London with the north of England.

The first phase of HS2, connecting London's Euston station with Birmingham in the midlands, is currently scheduled for completion in 2026.

Trains on the line will be able to reach speeds of 250 miles per hour (400 km/h) and will be able to transport an estimated 26,000 people each hour.

UK firms Carillion, Costain and Balfour Beatty are leading consortiums to build tunnels, bridges and other civil engineering works on the first stretch of the new line.

Shares in all three companies rose sharply on the news.

"HS2 will deliver vital links between some of our country's biggest cities, helping to drive economic growth and productivity in the north and midlands," said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in the release Monday.

"As well as providing desperately needed new seats and better connecting our major cities, HS2 will help rebalance our economy," Grayling added.

The U.K. government estimated that construction of the full high-speed line, which stretches up to Leeds and Manchester, will create up to 25,000 jobs.

In November the Department of Transport issued a report claiming the new line could more than halve the travel time to central Manchester to just over an hour.

Further HS2 announcements are taking place today which may clarify the exact route of the rail line as it moves further north.