The government has today awarded £6.6 billion in contracts to build the new high-speed railway that will connect London and Birmingham. Various companies, including struggling construction firm Carillion, will be involved in the process.

Costain and Balfour Beatty will also build tunnels, bridges and embankments on the first stretch of the new rail line, which will create 16,000 jobs.

The final routes of the Manchester and Leeds lines are due to be announced later as well.

As reported by the BBC, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "As well as providing desperately needed new seats and better connecting our major cities, HS2 will help rebalance our economy.

"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."

chris grayling

Credit: PA

The TUC praised the contract announcements, calling them a 'shot in the arm for Brexit Britain'.

The union's deputy general secretary, Paul Nowak, said: "It will provide thousands of decent jobs, billions in investment, and help close the north-south divide. HS2 is a real opportunity for British steel to shine. The next phase of HS2 should bring jobs and investment to the parts of Britain that need them most."

However, the HS2 project has been surrounded by controversy, with opponents of the high-speed rail scheme claiming that the government is drastically underestimating the actual cost, and that construction has already been pushed back.

According to the Telegraph, Joe Rukin of the Stop HS2 campaign said: "The case for HS2 has been invented by the very cheerleaders who intend to rake in billions of taxpayers' money which is desperately needed elsewhere.

"It really is time to ditch this gigantic white elephant before it is too late."

no to hs2

Anti-HS2 campaign poster displayed in the window of a house in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. Credit: PA

The government, however, has claimed that the new rail network could double the amount of available rush hour seats.

Some northern officials are concerned about whether the government will decide to press ahead with only the western service, neglecting Leeds, York and Sheffield.

Stuart Andrew, the MP for Pudsey Horsforth and Aireborough, told the Yorkshire Post: "Every meeting and discussion I have had with Ministers, they have reassured me that the eastern leg is just as vital as the rest.

"We don't know what will happen in the future, but in the Yorkshire region we have got to speak with one voice - we can't take anything for granted. We have got to keep fighting for it and we can't rest on our laurels."

If all goes according to plan, HS2 could be open from December 2026.

Sources: Yorkshire Post, BBC News, The Telegraph

Featured Image Credit: PA

Mark McGowan

Mark is a journalist at LADbible, who joined in 2015 after a year as a freelance writer. In the past he blogged for independent football fan channel Redmen TV, after graduating from Staffordshire University with degrees in journalism and English literature. He has worked on campaigns such as UOKM8? and IIOC.

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