Five hundred businesses have snapped up places at a conference for firms looking to cash in on the government’s controversial HS2 scheme in just a fortnight, it emerged today.
The flurry of interest in the event in Birmingham is a boost to HS2 Ltd, which is behind the £42.6 billion rail link.
Organisers say that there are still places left for the conference, where companies will be told more than £10bn worth of contracts to make the project a reality are up for grabs.
HS2 will cut through miles of Staffordshire countryside, including villages near Stafford, Rugeley and Lichfield.
The Supply Chain Conference is being held at the ICC on November 5.
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “The high volume of sign-ups to the supply chain conference at this early stage shows that businesses are taking the right approach towards the procurement opportunities of HS2. HS2 will be an economic game-changer and it is vital that businesses are aware of the opportunities on offer.
“The supply chain conference is an excellent chance for businesses to explore these options and prepare for its construction.”
HS2 Ltd representatives will be at the event to tell businesses how they can win more than £10bn worth of contracts to help turn the rail scheme into a reality.
Beth West, HS2 Ltd commercial director, said: “We look forward to engaging with our supply chain, to develop a world class high speed rail industry and skills base in the UK. The Birmingham Supply Chain Conference will be the first opportunity to demonstrate how HS2 will work with industry partners.”
Bosses behind HS2 are seeking firms to deliver different phases of the scheme including planning, design and construction.
It was claimed this week that the West Midlands is set to make more than £1.3bn from HS2. Areas that will benefit most from the government project include Sandwell, which will make £130 million while Walsall is set to gain £117m, and Birmingham will make £764m from the line.
But areas in Staffordshire likely to be hardest hit will make considerably less from the plans, with Stafford making just £26m and South Staffordshire gaining £19m.
Campaigners against the plans say they fear the government will plough ahead with the project despite the effect on parts of Staffordshire.
David Cameron insisted in a recent Tory party conference speech that the line would stop England becoming ‘London-centric’ and would make northern cities industrial capitals again.