The creation of the UK's first high-speed rail network is hitting full speed after the initial contracts for Phase Two of HS2 were awarded.

AECOM Ltd, Mott MacDonald and Arup have all been successful and will be tasked with bringing the development to fruition in the coming years. The former has landed the job of covering engineering services for the Birmingham to Manchester route which has been valued at £3.1 million. Mott MacDonald will carry out similar work on the Birmingham to Leeds leg of the line amounting to £3.2 million.

While AECOM and Mott MacDonald will undertake the construction side of the project, Arup has landed the environmental contract. The company will assess the impact of the atmosphere and the surrounding the new rail network will have and will also develop the sound demonstration to be used as part of the Phase Two consultation. Arup's contract has been valued at £1.1 million.

The latest batch of agreements is set to provide a major boost for the employment sector around the UK. Alison Munro, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, explained that the professional services framework for the first phase of work has already created 1,200 jobs and thousands more could be created in the second part of the development.

"HS2 will transform the UK through bringing our major cities closer together, helping to promote economic growth, driving regional regeneration, creating thousands of jobs and providing a long-term solution to the capacity crunch facing our existing rail network," Ms Munro added.

The new high-speed rail network is set to bring commuters from across the country much closer to London. The second phase will see Birmingham, Manchester (via Manchester Airport), Leeds, via a new East Midlands Hub in Toton, and Sheffield  within easy reach of the capital.

Trains will be able to hit speeds of up to 250mph and it would mean that the average journey time between London and Manchester would be slashed from two hours and eight minutes to just one hour and eight minutes.

The line is expected to be open by 2032-33.

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