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Phase One: London to West Midlands

Learn about the HS2 Phase One route and its construction.

Accessibility: Full video transcript.

What is Phase One?

Phase One of HS2 will see a new high speed railway line constructed from Euston to north of Birmingham, where it will re-join the existing West Coast Mainline. Services will travel onwards to places like Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Preston and Wigan. Phase One will open between 2029 and 2033.

The new line between London and Birmingham will run on 140 miles of dedicated track.  Four brand new stations and two new depots will also be built. 22,000 workers will be needed to complete construction.

View the interactive route map. Find out more about the stations.

Facts and figures

10,000 people are already working on HS2. We’ve announced 22,000 further jobs, with more big contracts and jobs to come. They will be constructing a railway that will be a feat of British engineering. The Phase One route will have more miles of tunnels than Crossrail and a bridge longer than the Forth Rail Bridge.

Tunnels

  • Phase One will have 32 miles (51km) of tunnels.
  • The Chiltern tunnel is 10 miles (16km) long and at 90m depth it is the deepest on the route.
  • The London tunnels are 13 miles (21km), with a maximum depth of 50m.
  • There will also be tunnels on the approach to Birmingham city centre.

Find out more about the first of our tunnel boring machines, and how they got there names.

Viaducts and bridges

  • Over 500 bridging structures will be constructed under and over the route.
  • Over 50 viaducts measuring about 9 miles (15km) in length will be built.
  • The UK’s longest viaduct will cross the Colne Valley. It will be over two miles (3.4km) long, which is 0.6 miles longer than the Forth Rail Bridge.
  • Delta Junction outside Birmingham is 5.9 miles (9.5km) long and consists of 7 bridges and viaducts spanning 3 rail lines, 8 roads, 5 rivers and canals and the M6.

Cuttings and embankments

  • Over 70 cuttings will be excavated, measuring over 44 miles (72km) in total.
  • The longest is the Calvert Cutting at 2.5 miles (4.1km) with a maximum depth of 9.7m.
  • The deepest is Lower Thorpe Cutting at 30.5m deep.
  • Over 110 embankments, measuring about 38 miles (61km) long , will be constructed.
  • The longest embankment will be Grendon Underwood at 1.8 miles (3km) long.

Construction in 2020

HS2 construction facts Phase One   30,000 jobs at peak HS2 construction. 70% of jobs created outside London. 2,000 HS2 apprentices.  Over 50 viaducts.  Over 70 cuttings.  Over 110 embankments.  Over 150 bridges.  7 million trees and shrubs to be planted.  15,000 freight trains used taking 1.5 million construction lorries off the road.  140 miles of railway.  2 new railway depots.  4 new stations.  Over 200 construction sites.  Over 1 million tonnes of steel.  Over 2,000 cranes, dumpers, tipper trucks and excavators.  10 tunnel boring machines.  130 million tonnes of earth excavated enough to fill Wembley Stadium 15 times. 64 miles of tunnelling.  Lowest points of the railway 90 metres below ground in the Chilterns tunnel.

Construction will begin with the biggest engineering challenges – such as the stations and tunnels – then the main viaducts and bridges, and finally meets in the middle with the route surface works. As such, most activity during 2020 will be focused on the city centre station sites and the major construction compounds at Old Oak Common, South Portal, Calvert and Streethay.

All along the route this year, Enabling Works contractors will start to hand over to Main Works contractors with station construction also starting at Old Oak Common. Detailed design work will continue in parallel for the likes of Euston and the surface route, while procurement will continue for the later stages of the build, such as the Birmingham stations, rolling stock, track and overhead systems.

Construction highlights

view across archaeological dig revealing old foundations with Birmingham city centre skyline in background
A large crane lifts a steel girder above a bridge in construction.
The circular cutting head of a tunnel boring machine under going assembly.
1: Prime Minister Boris Johnson with HS2 workers at the formal start of construction at the Interchange Station site.. 2: Prefabricated bridge construction near Interchange Station. 3: A tunnel boring machine under construction.

HS2 will use the best of British skills and innovation to prepare and build the route.

Enabling Works contractors will complete the majority of the archaeological investigations, continue to clear the surface route, and deliver new habitat and tree planting as part of the Green Corridor project.

Our Enabling Works contractors will complete the clearance of the major station sites – Euston, Old Oak Common, Interchange and Curzon Street.

We will complete the set-up of the biggest construction site compounds, which will act as regional centres for construction and logistics, with hundreds of workers on each site.

The first tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be completed and delivered ahead of their launch in 2021.

In 2021, the foundations for the Colne Valley Viaduct, the longest viaduct in the UK, will be laid.

Motorway bridges will be installed at the Interchange site and preparations at Washwood Heath – This is a maintenance depot just outside Birmingham where trains will be serviced and maintained.

We will begin restoration of the old Curzon Street station building, which will be converted into a local information centre adjacent to our new station.

Construction will begin at Old Oak Common with the construction partner starting to build the huge box from which the east-bound London TBMs will be launched and the new platforms built.

More information about HS2 Phase One construction

Early works and main contractors

Main contractors and early works contractors

Main contractors

The  joint ventures (JV) contractors are:

  • Birmingham to Leamington Spa – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group, Vinci Construction UK Ltd.) BBV Careers
  • Chiltern Tunnels and associated work – Align JV (Bouyges Travaux Publics, Volkerfitzpatrick, Sir Robert McAlpine) Align Careers
  • Leamington Spa to M25 –  EKFB JV (Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd) EKFB Careers
  • Within M25 – SCS JV (Costain Group Plc, Skanska Construction UK Ltd, STRABAG)

Early works

  • Area South – CS JV (Costain Group Plc, Skanska Construction UK Limited)
  • Area Central -Fusion JV (Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd, BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Limited)
  • Area North – LM JV (Laing O’Rourke Construction Limited, J. Murphy & Sons Limited)

As well as archaeology, site clearance and establishing site compounds, early works delivers a range of activities including utility diversions, ecology surveys, demolition, ground remediation, watercourse activities, highways realignments, monitoring and instrumentation, structural reinforcements and drainage work.

Careers with our supply chain

Find out more about careers in our supply chain and where our contractors are working.

Planning Forum

Planning Forum

The forum provides the opportunity for local authorities, the nominated undertaker and representatives from government departments to cooperate and carry out work for Phase One of the project.

Invitees to the forum include officers from qualifying local authorities, HS2 and the Department for Transport. Meetings are chaired by an independent Chair.

Details about the forum, its sub-groups and its minutes, back to 2013, can be found on GOV.UK

Our community websites

Our community websites

Visit our community websites to find out more about the route as it travels through communities, how it is being constructed and what we are doing to make this less disruptive. The sites host: local area plans, local engagement plans, contractor liaison plans and local event information.

More sites are being prepared to serve other areas. All community sites can also be found on the HS2 community site hub .

Phase One and Parliament

Learn about the Phase One Hybrid Bill and Undertakings and Assurances.

Phase One in Parliament

Other phases of HS2

Phase 2a: West Midlands to Crewe

The Phase 2a line will run between Fradley in the West Midlands and Crewe in Cheshire. There it will connect with existing high speed services to carry passengers between London and Crewe. Services will travel onward to places like Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Preston and Wigan. Find out more about Phase 2a.

Phase 2b: Crewe to Manchester, West Midlands to Leeds

The Phase 2b line forms a Y shape, split into an eastern and a western leg. The western leg will connect to the high speed lines at Crewe and run through to Manchester. The eastern leg will connect to high speed lines in the West Midlands and run through to Leeds. Services will also travel onward to places like Glasgow, Liverpool, Preston and Wigan. Find out more about Phase 2b.