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Chancellor kicks off £11.8bn HS2 bidding process during China trip

24 September 2015

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has kick-started the bidding process for seven new contracts related to phase one of the £11.8bn HS2 construction project.

HS2 concept (image courtesy of HS2 Ltd)

The Chancellor made the announcement at an event in Chengdu, China, aimed at wooing 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, as well as launching his 'Northern Powerhouse' pitch to the Chinese.

Construction of phase 1 is due to start in 2017, and when opened will slash the travel time between London and Birmingham from 1 hour 21 minutes, to 49 minutes. Work is also underway on developing plans to transform East-West rail links.

Speaking while travelling on part of China’s vast network of high speed railways the Chancellor 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."

Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF) chief executive, Terry Scuolar said the government's commitment to high speed rail is a welcome boost to manufacturers. "British businesses must be at the heart of delivering this important and high profile project at every stage, and all arms of government must look to unlock opportunities for UK industry," he says. "It is a significant opportunity to further strengthen supply chains and help revitalise Britain's industrial heartlands."

Parliament has yet to approve the HS2 scheme.

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