Government confirmation today (Wednesday October 12) that it is to press ahead with the HS2 high speed rail line will mean more job opportunities and greater prosperity for the people of the West Midlands.
Cllr Bob Sleigh, chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), said Europe’s largest infrastructure project would help kick start the Midlands Engine and bring major economic benefits for the region.
Welcoming comments this morning by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling reaffirming the Government’s commitment to HS2, Cllr Sleigh said: “The positive impact that HS2 can make to our local economy and to people’s jobs prospects, in particular young people, should not be underestimated.
“It is why we are determined to make the most of HS2 and maximise the benefits by putting in place the local transport links needed to connect and feed into the line, and the job training and apprenticeships that will equip people with the right skills to fill the thousands of jobs that will be created.
“The West Midlands will sit at the heart of the UK high speed rail network giving us unrivalled connectivity to other major cities and better and faster links to markets both at home and overseas will help us grow our regional economy.
“That in turn will help the wider UK economy, which we believe will be more important than ever in a post Brexit world.”
During his speech at a conference in London Mr Grayling said the UK needed HS2 and the Government was not backing away from it.
“We need it for the boost it will give our regional and national economies and we need it for the jobs it will create,” he said.
His comments follow hard on the heels of last week’s Conservative Party conference in Birmingham during which the WMCA urged government to build HS2 as quickly as possible to provide badly needed capacity on the existing rail network and help rebalance the national economy.
The combined authority’s vision is to fully maximise the benefits of HS2 and secure:
Today’s commitment to HS2 means work is expected to start on Phase 1 of the line between the West Midlands and London next year with completion scheduled for 2026.
Phase 2 of the project going north from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester is expected to be open by 2033.