HS2, the under-fire high speed rail line that will link London to the North, has said it will create 15,000 jobs by 2020 at 30,000 at "peak construction".
The company said the £56bn project had already supported over 7,000 roles and that construction, starting next year, would support as many as 30,000. The first phase of the project, linking London to Birmingham, is due to open in December 2026.
However, the government admitted earlier this month that the second phase of the project, which links Birmingham to Leeds and Crewe to Wigan and Manchester, will be delayed because the bill enabling the line to be built will not be tabled until 2020. However, the Department for Transport (DfT) said the overall deadline of 2033 will still be hit.
The jobs boost comes as HS2 announces its skills strategy which it says will deliver a pipeline of jobs in the UK. It says over 2,000 business have already won work with HS2 and that 2,000 apprentices will be given work over the lifetime of the project.
Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2, said: “Our programme will tackle the skills challenges faced by the wider transport infrastructure sector, and ensure the UK has the best skills to deliver HS2 as well as major infrastructure projects in the future.”
HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani MP added: “HS2 will provide the backbone of our future rail network and is already driving jobs and economic growth across the country. HS2 already supports over 7,000 jobs – forecast to reach around 15,000 by 2020 – and is building the talented workforce of the future that this transformative project needs.
“The ambitious programme of skills, employment and education set out today will see the economic benefits of HS2 fully realised across the UK, boosting productivity and sharing prosperity across the country.”
The TaxPayers' Alliance, which has questioned the value of the project, said HS2 have "desperately re-announced these old numbers to distract from the scrutiny that this terrible project is rightly facing".
Campaign manager Harry Fone said: "There have been more than 3m private sector jobs created in recent years and spending tens of billions on this expensive vanity project hardly seems like the best use of taxpayers' cash.
"People around the country are demanding HS2 should be scrapped before we throw any more good money after bad. Taxpayers deserve better and cheaper alternatives to HS2."