Political and transport leaders met today on a mission to keep the Midlands moving during the huge HS2 construction programme.
Transport minister Jesse Norman MP, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan, HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston, Martin Frobisher, route managing director of London North Western for Network Rail, and representatives from the Department for Transport and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) all came together for the inaugural meeting of the Resilience Partnership.
Held at the WMCA offices in Birmingham, the group discussed how to keep the West Midlands open for business and support growth during the extended HS2 construction period.
(l-r) Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan, HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston, joint head of Midlands and South West at the DfT Barbara King, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, transport minister Jesse Norman MP, TfWM managing director Laura Shoaf, TfWM director of network resilience Anne Shaw and Network Rail’s route managing director of London North Western Martin Frobisher.
Work on the line on the line between London and Birmingham is expected to begin in early 2019, with some preparation works in 2018. The first trains are scheduled to run in 2026.
There will be two new stations built in the city - Birmingham Curzon Street and Birmingham Interchange.
They will be the largest new stations to be built in the West Midlands since Victorian times.
Construction of the line and the stations will be a massive operation that will entail building a number of crossings over existing rails and roads.
There is potential for significant disruption on the regional motorway and road networks during this time unless carefully managed.
The Resilience Partnership has been set up to do this, as well as develop a template for collaboration for other major investment programmes on a similar scale.
Mr Norman said: "The meeting today was really productive, and we are keen to do what we can to minimise disruption from construction works.
"HS2 will become the backbone of our national rail network, and improve vital connections between eight of the ten biggest cities in our country.
"It will deliver greater capacity for freight and faster journeys for passengers, boosting economic growth.”
Andy Street said: “HS2 will be worth billions to the West Midlands economy once complete but to build it is going to be a massive undertaking.
“We need to establish how we deal with traffic diversion routes and how to keep them flowing, because they will have a critically important part to play during that construction phase.
“That is why it is so important that all the bodies involved come together to plan how best to cause the minimum disruption possible and keep the region moving.”
The West Midlands will eventually be at the heart of the HS2 network.
The first phase of construction will be between Euston station to Birmingham Interchange, next to the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham Airport.
A spur will link this with Birmingham Curzon in Birmingham city centre.
Together the two station developments are at the heart of regeneration projects expected to create 50,000 jobs in Birmingham and Solihull.
HS2 services from London and Birmingham will eventually travel beyond the new high speed network via existing tracks to a wide range of destinations including Liverpool, the north west, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Improved connectivity between the Midlands and the North brought about by HS2 will boost economic productivity and open new business opportunities between the two regions.
The WMCA’s strategic economic plan anticipates that by 2030 HS2 will have delivered an additional £6bn of GVA.