Business and public sectors unite behind high speed rail

By on 25/02/2011 in News

Key players from the West Midlands private and public sectors have joined forces to launch a powerful consortium in support of the proposed high speed rail link between Birmingham and London.

GO-HS2 is a collaboration between big business including the NEC Group, Birmingham Airport and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and public bodies including Birmingham City Council, Solihull Council, transport authority Centro and Marketing Birmingham.

The organisations have come together after carefully weighing up the arguments for and against the project. The consortium has spent months analysing research into the rail link’s impact on the West Midlands economy and its ability to release badly needed capacity on the existing rail network, especially on the congested West Coast Main Line (WCML) running between the region and London.

Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “There can be little doubt that HS2 will bring significant economic benefits to the region's economy, providing a vital link to London and beyond that Europe for businesses, tourists and the public alike.

“That the membership of this consortium is drawn from such a diverse group, straddling public and private sectors alike, really demonstrates how the region is speaking with one voice on this issue.”

Geoff Inskip, chief executive of Centro, said: “Go-HS2 galvanises support for the project within the business and public sector and enables us to speak with one voice on what we believe is the biggest opportunity for wealth and job creation in a generation.

“HS2 can bring 22,000 new jobs to the West Midlands and boost its economy by £1.5 billion a year and it’s this potential for regeneration combined with its ability to meet future rail demand that makes the case.

“We all recognise the huge part HS2 can play in creating a successful and prosperous West Midlands and that’s why we are united in our determination to see this high speed rail route delivered.”

Apart from the significant economic benefits for the region, GO-HS2 members also believe the high speed route is vital to secure the long term viability of the existing rail system after expert research from Network Rail showed that the existing WCML will reach full capacity by the mid 2020s. The research also showed that all the alternative options such as longer and more frequent trains or expanding the existing line have been examined and exhausted and cannot meet future demand.

Go-HS2 believes that because a new rail line has to be built, it would be short-sighted not to spend a relatively small amount of extra money and make that line high speed thereby unlocking all the extra economic and journey time benefits such a railway brings.

Go-HS2 is also concerned that failure to build the new line could see local and regional services pushed out at the expense of more profitable inter city services. That would hit hundreds of thousands of regional commuters, damage local economies and stifle economic growth and job creation.

By contrast, building the line would not only bring jobs and economic growth but also release badly needed capacity on the existing rail network.

In the West Midlands this would allow increased service frequencies to local destinations such as Lichfield, Tamworth, Nuneaton and Rugby and more regional services linking towns currently without direct services. Places like Kenilworth could have new services such as a direct London service. The released capacity would also enable more freight trains to operate along the West Coast Main Line.

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