The official construction process for Britain's new high speed rail system has now begun, with the Chancellor opening the bidding for companies to commence building the railway line.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News, George Osborne revealed that companies would now be able to bid for the right to build the rail routes & tunnels for the first phase of High Speed Two, linking London & Birmingham.
Actual construction work on the projects, worth almost Â£12bn, will commence in two years, with the finished route promising to slash the London to Birmingham journey time from one hour 21 minutes to 49 minutes.
The Chancellor told Sky News: "Britain has to raise its game if it wants to stay in the front rank of economic powers, & that means building high speed trains to link up the north to the Midlands to the south of our country.
â€œWhat we are announcing today is a major milestone in the delivery of High Speed Two, opening up the bidding for more than Â£11bn worth of contracts to build the track so that construction can start in just two yearsâ€™ time.
â€œThat means HS2 becoming a reality.â€
Mr OsborneÂ made the announcement on the final day of his week-long tour of China.
The hope is that Chinese firms are among those bidding for construction rights in the UK.
Mr Osborne moreover announced a plan to open a Chinese pitch book of more than Â£24bn of investments in his Northern Powerhouse scheme.
Earlier in the week, he announced a Â£2bn UK government guarantee for the construction of a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley, to be part-financed by the Chinese, & a proposed link between the London & Shanghai stock markets.
However, some have warned the Chancellor that with the Chinese economy starting to flag, there are potential question marks over its ability to support huge British projects in the future.
Source: “Sky News”