The chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority has welcomed this morning’s (Nov 15) announcement by the Government on its preferred route for the northern section of HS2.
Cllr Bob Sleigh said the decision placed the West Midlands at the heart of the £55 billion HS2 network and was good news for future prosperity, improved connectivity, and much needed capacity on the rail network in the region.
He said: “HS2 puts the West Midlands in a unique position, ensuring quicker journeys to the UK’s biggest cities and freeing up capacity on the existing rail infrastructure, without which services will suffer.
“It will help this region to deliver growth and job creation and create a more competitive, diverse economy from which the whole of the UK will benefit.
“HS2 is a cornerstone of the WMCA’s strategic economic plan and will enable us to think about new ways of trading with other regions in skills and products, creating the critical mass of talent, innovation and accessibility that cities such as London take for granted.”
However Cllr Sleigh said there were people in the WMCA region who would be affected by the proposed route and urged then to make their views known to the public consultation that will now follow today’s announcement.
“Areas such as Tamworth and Kingsbury will be impacted by the new line and inevitably there are people whose lives will be affected,” he said.
“I would urge them to make their views known because, as was proved in the earlier consultation in 2013, the Government will listen and take those views on board wherever possible.”
The WMCA has a £4.4bn HS2 Growth Strategy to ensure that the maximum economic benefit from HS2 is spread across the wider region.
This will include the Curzon Masterplan, its priority for expansion of the Midland Metro network east and west, from Brierley Hill to the HS2 Interchange station at Curzon Street in Birmingham city centre.
It will also see an infrastructure package, including new transport links to Coventry, enhancing the HS2 supply chain, and connectivity schemes that will improve access from across the region to the new HS2 station hubs.
Phase 1 of the line is due to open in December 2026 and will see trains travel at high speed between London and Birmingham before running on from Birmingham on the existing West Coast Main Line.
A second Y-shaped phase will open in two stages. Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe will launch in 2027 and phase 2b, from Crewe to Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds, South Yorkshire and the East Midlands, will open in 2033.
On the western leg, HS2 will:
There will also be a connection to Liverpool and to the existing West Coast main line allowing HS2 services to continue north, serving stations to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
On the eastern leg, HS2 will:
For more details about HS2 and the WMCA strategic economic plan go to https://westmidlandscombinedauthority.org.uk/about/strategic-economic-plan/