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Phase 1 HS2 Construction Timeline | When Will Your Skills Be Needed?

  • Publish Date: Posted over 3 years ago
  • Author: Rebekah Valero-Lee

As the UK’s largest infrastructure project, HS2 naturally provokes many questions in the contractor community. Our social media channels have been inundated with requests from our candidate community asking if and when their skills will be needed to work on the project. This blog aims to answer these queries, outlining the HS2 construction timeline for Phase One, illustrating which skills will be needed when, from 2017 until 2026.

The HS2 construction timeline set out by HS2 and the UK Government, suggests that the Phase One route (London to Birmingham) will take approximately 8 years, from site clearance to railway installation. This will be followed by a period of testing and commissioning before the first services start running in 2026.

Interestingly, the timeline shows that HS2 Phase One will only experience active construction for approximately two years prior to railway installation (in areas where there are no major structures). Read on to find out when and where your skills will be needed on HS2. The key phases of the HS2 construction timeline are outlined below:

  1. Site clearance

Including enabling works, utility diversion and demolition of buildings, candidates will be required who have experience to clear the site ready for construction.

Est. date: now

Contracts awarded:

  • Area South – CS JV (Costain Group Plc, Skanska Construction UK Limited)

  • Area Central – Fusion JV (Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd, BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Limited)

  • Area North – LM JV (Laing O’Rourke Construction Limited, J. Murphy & Sons Limited)

Skills required:

  • Archaeologists

  • Labourers

  • Establishing site compounds

  • Utility diversion

  • Ecology surveyors

  • Demolition

  • Ground remediators

  • Highways realignment

  • Monitoring and instrumentation

  • Structural reinforcement

  • Drainage work

  1. Earthworks

Once the site is prepared, the nominated undertaker will start earthworks that will include excavating cuttings, building embankments and starting tunnel construction.

Est. date: now

Contracts awarded:

  • SCS JV (Skanska Construction UKLtd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG)

Skills required:

  • Plant operatives

  • Bricklayers

  • Surveyors

  • Construction professionals

  1. Civil engineering

With the general line of route established, building will start on the structures to support the railway. This would include bridges (over or under the railway), tunnels, viaducts, retaining walls and stations.

Est. date: 2019

Contracts awarded:

Area South

  • S1: Euston Tunnels and Approaches – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UKLtd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG)

  • S2: Northolt Tunnels – SCS JV (Skanska Construction UK Ltd, Costain Ltd, STRABAG AG)

Area Central

  • C1: Chiltern Tunnels and Colne Valley Viaduct – Align JV (Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick, Sir Robert McAlpine)

  • C2: North Portal Chiltern Tunnels to Brackley – CEK JV (Carillion Construction Ltd, Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd)

  • C3: Brackley to South Portal of Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel – CEK JV (Carillion Construction Ltd, Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd)

Area North

  • N1: Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel to Delta Junction and Birmingham Spur – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement)

  • N2: Delta Junction to WCML Tie-In – BBV JV (Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, VINCI Construction Grands Projets, VINCI Construction UK Ltd, VINCI Construction Terrassement)

Skills required:

  • Civil engineers

  • Architects

  • Civils operatives

  • Project management

  • Plant operatives

  • Construction trade supervisors

  • Building envelope specialists

  • Scaffolders

  • Plant mechanics/fitters

  1. Railway installation

Finally, with the track bed prepared, the nominated undertaker will install the railway systems, including ballast, slab, tracks, signalling and the power supply. This stage will also include the final finishes to station buildings.

Est. date: 2020 onwards

Contracts awarded:

As above

Skills required:

  • P-way

  • Overhead line electrification

  • Signalling

  • Telecommunications

  • Traction power

  • Electrical trades and installation

  • Roofers

  • Plasterers

  • Glazers

  • Floorers

  • Painters and decorators

  1. System testing and commissioning

The railway will be fully tested to ensure it can operate safely and reliably. Testing and commissioning will allow operational procedures to be tested and refined alongside the training of staff.

Est. Date:

The period of testing and commissioning is expected to extend over four years, commencing in 2022 and completing in 2026.


Testing will start on the section of route closest to the route-wide network control centre at Washwood Heath depot in Birmingham.

Skills required:

  • Health and safety operatives

  • Mechanical and electrical personnel

  • Test and commissioning operatives

  1. Commencement of services

On current plans, passenger services for Phase One are expected to commence from 2026.