High Speed is completed in the UK with the HS2 project

With a budget of 58,000 million Euros, HS2 is the largest infrastructure construction project in Europe.

After the commissioning of the first High Speed line, the UK moves forward with the development of the second line, High Speed Two, the first phase will run between London Euston and future new station in Curzon Street, in Birmingham, while the second phase will include two stretches: one western section to Manchester Picadilly and another one to the future new station Leeds New Lane. In addition, it will pass through the transportation hub East Midlands Derby, Nottingham and Leicester and Meadowhall’s exchanger (which will give service to Sheffield).

Cities such as York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Crewe, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Preston and Carlisle will be connected to the network via HS2 trains on the conventional network. Also, the possibility of extending Herringbone to Newcastle and central Scotland is being discussed.

High-speed trains will reduce time and distance between London and the East Midlands region in which it will be one of the most important works undertaken in the coming years by the British government.

The construction of this new High Speed network will start next year and will have a length of 555 kilometres. The total cost of the project will amount to more than €40,000 million in infrastructure plus, among other items, €8,900 million in rolling stock.

The objective is that the first trains will be in operation in 2026. The first phase of the mega-project is valued between 7,100 and 11,800 million pounds (between 9,000 and 15,000 million Euros approximately).

The first contracts are expected to be awarded in early 2017 and will correspond to 7 lots of MCWC Major Civil Works Contracts, which will reach an amount of almost 1 trillion pounds each.

Railway origins

The railway transport is a means of great importance in the UK, both for its historical tradition and the volume of passengers transported.

Since the world’s first railway line was inaugurated in the early nineteenth century, the British railway system has experienced a continuous growth until today. Currently, the network has over 16,000 kilometres of track and 2,500 stations nationwide.

The British rail network is denser in the region of southeast England, due largely to the influence of the capital, London. Of the 19,000 passenger services operated daily (more than 3.15 million people a day) about 75% starts or ends in the metropolis.

However, despite increasing levels of investment in infrastructure, the UK has a limited High Speed network, especially when compared with other European Union countries such as France and Spain.

Great time reduction

The first phase of HS2 project will have a length of 225 kilometres between London and Birmingham. 127 of these kilometres will run through tunnels to minimize the environmental impact. The second part, which will be completed in 2032, will link Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester.

Thanks to the speed expected to reach 360 kilometres per hour, it will substantially reduce travel times between major cities connected by this line, to be reduced from London to:

-Birmingham in 45 min (currently 1½ hours)

-Leeds in 1 hour and 30 minutes (currently 2 hours and 3 minutes)

-Manchester in 1 hour and 6 minutes (2 hours and 7 minutes current)

-Edinburgh in 2 hours and 9 minutes (4 hours and 23 minutes).

-Glasgow in two hours and 16 minutes (currently 4 hours and 10 minutes).


Since most of the long distance rail services in the United Kingdom do not exceed 200 km / h, that there are significant limitations of speed and continue to circulate old diesel locomotives on lines like the East Coast Mainline or the Great Western Main Line, HS2 project will mark a before and after in communications on the island.

It is estimated that the new railway network will generate a profit of about 56,400 million Euros when operated, plus a fee revenue to 40.800 billion Euros, over a period of 60 years.

The project will provide vital transport links between cities and regions across the UK.

More than 50% of the route will pass through cuttings or tunnels, while about 56.5 miles (91 kilometres) will be partially or completely hidden to reduce noise and visual effects in neighbouring communities.

Thus, High Speed 2 is a line that will provide greatly improved rail capacity and therefore connectivity between large urban areas of Britain will be optimized, providing the basis for sustainable economic growth in a time when there is commitment to the High Speed rail as the means of transport of the future.

The railway network will include innovative features such as two-way and standard width.

HS2 will change user expectations regarding service, reliability and connectivity through intelligent design stations that allow quick and easy mobility. In 2020 there will be 400 million trips per year.

The government believes that the High Speed train network would free the saturated suburban and regional network, absorb 5.4 million air passengers annually and 9.8 million road trips, transport two thirds of the population north of England in less than two hours from London and offer new options for connection to Heathrow airport and with Europe, through the HS1 operation through the Channel Tunnel (Eurostar) with destination Paris.

The project step by step 

The proposed route of Phase One for the London-Birmingham section was published in January 2012.

Phase One is a route in the northwest between London Euston and WCML, just north of Lichfield in Staffordshire, serving the North West of England and Scotland. There will also be a branch ending in the new Birmingham Curzon Street Station.

For several years, several proposals have been considered for the construction of a branch line connecting the HS2 route to Heathrow Airport.

While in opposition, the Conservative Party said in 2009 the plan to build a High Speed line connecting London with Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, with connections to cities in the main line of Great Western (Bristol and Cardiff) and long term in order to connect with Scotland, it also expressed support for a plan submitted by the engineering firm Arup for a new Hub at Heathrow that would include a link connecting Heathrow Airport with the new High Speed route and the Channel Tunnel, with the possibility of connections to destinations in Europe. At first, Arup had suggested in the Heathrow Hub Arup Sumission for HS2 a site of 80 hectares (200 acres) in Thorney’s area of Iver, northeast of the intersection of the M25 and M4, could house a railway station of 12 or more platforms, as well as a bus station and a sixth terminal. Under this proposal, the High Speed line would then be a different route to Birmingham, parallel to existing highways and railways as HS1 in Kent.

As for Phase Two, two branches will be created in Birmingham to the north, on either side of the Apennines, creating a network in a “Y”. Phase Two is divided into two sub-phases 2A and 2B. 2A is the section of Lichfield to Crewe in the western section of the “Y” and Phase 2B the rest of Phase Two.

Western Section: This section of “Y” extends north of Lichfield with connection to the WCML north, in Bamfurlong south of Wigan, and providing service to Scotland, with a branch to the existing station Manchester Piccadilly.

East section: This section is located in Coleshill, east of Birmingham, and is heading north, York, providing service to the northwest of England and Scotland. Birmingham’s line to the north will include the East Midlands Hub, located in Toton, between Derby and Nottingham.

After a series of changes and modifications made to the HS2 route in South Yorkshire, trains will not pass through Meadowhall and instead will use the existing line through Sheffield Chesterfield. There are proposals for the new station South Yorkshire Hub. However, in current plans there are no firm proposals but during the proposed changes there have been suggestions about a future hub near Thrunscoe, Rotherham or Dearne Valley.

Furthermore, the possibility of following phases between Scotland, Newcastle and Liverpool are being discussed. In Scotland, enterprises and government organizations, including Network Rail, CBI Scotland and Transport Scotland (the transit agency of the Scottish Government) formed Scottish Partnership Group for High Speed Rail in June 2011 to campaign for the extension of the HS2 project north to Edinburgh and Glasgow. It published a study in December 2011 which outlined a case for extending High Speed rail to Scotland, proposing a route north of Manchester to Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as an extension to Newcastle. At present, there are no DfT proposals to extend High Speed lines north of either Leeds or Manchester or to Liverpool, although High Speed trains will be capable of accessing some destinations off the High Speed lines using existing infrastructure.

Station Design 

The design of the stations occupies an important part of the HS2 project and tenders are expected soon.

Firms Grimshaw Architects and Arup have designed the new Euston station which includes 11 new High Speed platforms that are below the street level and will provide High Speed rail services between London and the Midlands and the North. The dome of the station will include new High Speed platforms and will be built in two stages as part of a phased approach in which the existing services can continue to operate and result in less disruption for passengers.

The station with 25,260 square meters was confronted with a new glass facade of 38 meters; one of the three new entries will transform the station into a space with shops, restaurants and cafes.

As for Old Oak Common station, the company Parsons Brinckerhoff will conduct an early study to investigate the realignment of existing roads for the construction of a new station as part of the plan to allow easy exchange between HS2, Crossrail and the Great Western main line, as well as Heathrow Express and other means of local public transport. The works of reorganization and the new station would involve multiple stages of construction to ensure that the work does not interfere with the proper functioning of the existing transport network.

Old Oak Common is going to become a key hub connecting London with the rest of the UK. Positioned midway between Heathrow and central London, the station may have more than 250,000 passengers a day and also provide a huge potential for regeneration of the area.

Another major station exchanger is Birmingham, which was inaugurated in 2015. The new transport interchange of Birmingham, by AZPML, seeks to become a new architectural icon for the English city. The fluid geometries of movement and distortion caused by speed rail serve as inspiration and starting point of the project. The design goal is to restore the relationship between form and function of the former railway station, by the new facade and the internal reorganization of the building. Outside, a reflective stainless steel skin enclosing the entire building. Inside is a large atrium with a dome covered with ETFE plates.

The HS2 terminal station in Curzon Street, Birmingham, will be one of the largest new stations built in Britain in 100 years. An estimated 25,000 passengers will use it every day in 2026. This will increase to 66,000 in 2041, six years after the completion of the two phases of HS2. The station will not only provide a significant reduction in travel time to other stations on the High Speed network, but will provide a connection to many other local and national services in the near Moor Street, New Street and stations of Snow Hill. The main entrance gives direct access to Moor Street Queensway and the nearby Moor Street station, the city centre and local bus services. A second input is proposed in New Canal Street to provide both pedestrian access to the immediate locality and to the east, and also to provide vehicle access to the station.


In April 2012, HS2 awarded contracts to Mott Macdonald, Atkins, Capita Ineco JV and Arup to design different segments along the High Speed line.

High Speed Two Limited, company responsible for the development and promotion of the new High Speed network in the UK, has awarded the contract EDP (Engineering Delivery Partner) for Phase One of the project to the consortium consisting of CH2M, Atkins and Spanish company Sener. These companies along with HS2 will be responsible for the design, construction and commissioning of the new High Speed line from London to Birmingham. The contract, whose planned duration is 10 years, includes assistance in the preparation of procurement of major packages for civil works, railway stations and systems, as well as monitoring, coordination and management of engineering, construction and commissioning of the project.

Sener will collaborate with HS2 in the preparation of the bid for large civil works contracts which will draft the London-Birmingham line. Four consortium candidates have already been set for major contracts and in the four of them there is Spanish presence through ACS, Ferrovial, FCC and Acciona, along with various local companies’ consortiums.

Under the terms of the project, the construction of this phase of the line, 225 kilometres long, is divided into seven sections. Each of the companies interested in achieving works in this HS could bid for between one and four of them.

HS2 Ltd selected 9 contracting teams for civil engineering works between London and Birmingham last November 11th for £ 11.8bn. Seven civil engineering contracts covering 140 miles from London to Birmingham are expected to be signed in 2017 and works will begin a year later. Spanish companies include the consortium Fusion, formed by Ferrovial’s subsidiary  Agroman, Morgan Sindall and BAM Nuttall, which has been selected for the pre-construction works of the central section of the High Speed line linking London and Birmingham. The project, which amounts to three hundred million pounds, affects the centre section of the line, one hundred kilometres of the 225 that is has in total. The section starts north of Euston Station, located on the outskirts of London, and reaches Birmingham Airport. Ferrovial Agroman’s work will include service diversions, ecological and environmental reports, archaeological works, land adaptation, water and fauna passages, road relocation, drainage and structural reinforcement, among others. The works will begin in early 2017.

The company is currently waiting for the works contract for the first section of the line itself, a project that is expected to be awarded before the end of the year and for which ACS, FCC and Acciona are also competing. FCC sided with the British Murphy and Laing O’Rourke, while Ferrovial allied with the also British Bam Nuttall and Morgan Sindall, and Dragados (ACS) with the German Hochtief and British owned Galiford Try. Initially, three contracts for 900 million pounds (1.277 million Euros) are expected to be awarded. Later it will be the turn of seven other contracts between 700 and 1,100 million pounds (994 and 1,561 million Euros).

Most of the companies participating in the contest have chosen three or four lots of work, except Acciona and Bechtel which are bidding for one.