Leader of the Council Cllr John Clancy’s response to today’s news that the government has confirmed the route for the second phase of the high-speed rail line HS2, from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds.
The decision to press ahead with HS2 Phase 2 is great news for Britain and even better news for Birmingham and the West Midlands because this region will uniquely benefit from being at the very heart of the high speed rail network.
Confirmation of Phase 1 from Euston to Curzon Street was a milestone for Birmingham. The second phase taking the line on to Leeds and Manchester is the icing on the cake.
This project is about much more than fast trains, although vastly reduced journey times between Birmingham and London and Birmingham and the great cities of the North are important.
Not only is the West Midlands going to be far better connected in future, Birmingham Airport will be the only high speed rail connected airport in the country with an HS2 station, bringing 35 million people within two hours’ travel of the airport and opening up access to key international markets for thousands of businesses.
Put simply, one of Europe’s greatest infrastructure projects will help to rebalance the UK economy by delivering jobs and economic growth across the Midlands and the North in a challenging post-Brexit landscape.
Here in Birmingham we already have bold plans in place to make the most of regeneration opportunities around Curzon Street. We believe HS2 will help to deliver 30,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes, 600,000 sq ms of employment space and benefit the economy to the tune of £1.4bn.
HS2 will allow the West Midlands to develop 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 and help to create a more competitive, diverse economy for the whole of the UK to benefit from.
It’s an over-worked phrase, but HS2 really is a game-changer for the people of Birmingham.