Birmingham’s engineering heritage, central location and readily available
skills-base means it is ‘the only logical choice’ to become the national servicing centre for the UK’s ambitious High Speed Rail plans, claimed the Leader of Birmingham City Council today.
Speaking alongside Shadow Minister for Transport, Stephen Hammond, and CEO of Birmingham International Airport, Paul Kehoe, at the Conservative Party Conference, Councillor Mike Whitby also outlined how High Speed 2 will bring £1.4 billion in direct benefits to Birmingham .
Cllr Whitby said: “Birmingham’s experience, capacity and engineering skills-base is unparalleled by any other city sitting on the network, making us the only logical choice to host the large scale engineering and train valeting facilities which will be required to operate the network.
“Not only would locating these services in Birmingham make sense for the train operators, but it would also reap great benefits for the city, directly creating hundreds of skilled and semi-skilled jobs, and many more besides in the local supply chain.
“The West Midlands-based lines also represent the only stretches of the proposed network which every single train will have to pass through on route between London and all onward destinations.”
Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham International Airport said; “The first InterCity railway from the Capital was the London to Birmingham railway built in 1837. From Birmingham the routes eventually spread out to reach other key cities in the north. I am convinced that this is how it will happen with the High-Speed renaissance as well.
Birmingham has had a connection with railway engineering for over 170 years. Trains were built for export around the World, and expertise is still exported. It makes sense to maintain and build on current capabilities. The region speaks with one voice on the need for a two station stop for Birmingham and this will provide a base for a national servicing centre”.
Once built, High Speed 2 will cut journey times between London and Birmingham in half, to 45 minutes, while bringing Paris and Brussels within a three-hour commute.
A report into High Speed 2 published last month, known as the Greengauge 21 Report, concluded that every £1 spent on the network would result in more than £3 of economic benefits to the cities served, as well as making dramatic improvements to the rail networks used by local services.
High speed 2 would further complement existing plans in Birmingham to dramatically modernise the city’s road and rail networks
The network would run directly into the city centre, connecting to the £600 million New Street Gateway station and providing passengers an onward link to the wider city where a £2.4 billion PFI project is currently underway to improve every single road and public highway.
High Speed Rail is already well established across Europe as the sustainable option for ultra-fast long-distance high-volume passenger transportation.
In 2007 High Speed Line 1, from London to the Channel Tunnel, brought the benefits of High Speed Rail to the UK, providing an attractive low carbon alternative to air, car and ferry services between London and Paris/Brussels – notes to editors.
Notes to editors
1. Birmingham’s ‘Big City, Big City Plan’ fringe event at 12pm on Wednesday, 7 October, in the Alex B room, Midland Hotel
2. For more information, please contact:
0121 303 3503/ 07920 750010