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Corbyn’s transport pledge: ‘Labour will nationalise railways and HS2’

Corbyn’s transport pledge: ‘Labour will nationalise railways and HS2’

🕔25.Sep 2015

The Labour party has made it clear it continues to back HS2, and would, if returned to government, bring the £50 billion project under the control of a nationalised railway system.

Shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood told the BBC that Labour under new leader Jeremy Corbyn was still backing the first phase of HS2 from Euston to Birmingham and the Y-shaped extension from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester.

Asked about Mr Corbyn, who has previously voted against HS2 legislation, she said:

He supports high-speed rail, I support high-speed rail, and the Labour Party supports the continued development of HS2.

Her comments came as Chancellor George Osborne attracted criticism by seeming to pre-empt a parliamentary decision on whether or not HS2 should go ahead by launching a formal bidding process for civil engineering packages for phase one of the high speed route.

Mr Osborne chose a visit to China to start the bidding process for £11.8 billion of contracts, and invited Chinese firms to enter the race.

Contractors are being invited to pre-qualify for seven civils packages split over three geographical areas – north, central and south – along the route from London to Birmingham.

Following the PQQ stage, successful applicants will be invited to bid for a maximum of four packages at tender stage, with a maximum award of up to two contracts per tenderer.

Construction works will commence following Royal Assent of the Phase 1 Hybrid Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament.

The Chancellor made the announcement at an event in Chengdu, China, where he is aiming to woo some of China’s biggest investors to be part of the project, as well as a raft of other major UK infrastructure projects.

Mr Osborne also announced a new ‘HS2 partnering day’ between British and Chinese firms to explore joining up on bids for contracts. The Chancellor is also inviting Chinese participation in the HS2 skills college, which is due to open in Birmingham and Doncaster in 2017.

Osborne said

We are truly entering a golden era of cooperation between our two countries, and it’s crucial that businesses and communities from across the UK feel the full benefit of forging closer economic links with China.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

The start of the procurement process for these significant contracts is a major step towards construction on HS2 getting underway in two years’ time and a massive opportunity to help rebalance our economy long before the trains start running in 2026.

Last week HS2 Ltd, the company responsible for the design, engineering and construction of the high speed rail network, announced the start of a recruitment drive for more than 100 specialist jobs, to be based in Birmingham.

The new jobs include opportunities in civil, rail and site engineering, project management, corporate procurement, contract and commercial management, health and safety, accountancy, HR, IT and legal specialists.

This month HS2 Ltd is holding its first two day Careers Fair in the centre of Birmingham, where delegates will have the chance to find out more about the project and discuss the wide range of opportunities available with staff currently working on the project.

HS2 Ltd Chief Executive, Simon Kirby said:

The arrival of HS2 in Birmingham will play a vital role in boosting jobs, skills, economic growth and regeneration across the city and the West Midlands.

HS2 will demand a wide range of skills across a broad range of areas, as the project develops from planning and design through to construction.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

With some of the UK’s leading universities located in Birmingham and one of the youngest populations in Europe, this region has a vast and ambitious talent pool with expertise ranging from engineering and manufacturing to professional and financial services.

The initial HS2 plan is for a new railway line between London and the West Midlands carrying 400m-long (1,300ft) trains with up to 1,100 seats per train.

They would initially operate at speeds of up to 225mph (362km/h), potentially rising to 250mph (400km/h) and would travel up to 14 times per hour in each direction.

This would be followed by a second phase taking services from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. Intermediate stations in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire are also planned.

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