HS2 can help transform the Midlands
Business groups across the West Midlands have welcomed the Government decision to press on with HS2 and says it can help transform the area
The Black Country Chamber of Commerce was one of the key partners that with Midlands Connect, lobbied for the full delivery of HS2, allowing thousands of businesses and commuters to benefit from improved connectivity, improved transport times and greater capacity on the railways.
Chamber chief executive Corin Crane said: "This is great news for businesses here in the Black Country. For far too long businesses have had to cope with heavily congested railways straining under over capacity issues.
"The Black Country’s economy is growing quickly, we have ambitious regeneration plans for more high value jobs and thousands of new homes. Transport improvements at the national scale, such as HS2 and at the local scale, championed by Midlands Connect, are essential to realising them."
Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "The UK needs substantial infrastructure investment to improve competitiveness and encourage growth and therefore, the Government’s decision to support HS2 must be seen in a positive light.
"Clearly it passes Shropshire by some distance, however it has been reported that it will free up capacity on our current lines which are clearly challenged.
"Whilst HS2 will add value in and around the area it runs, we will not lose sight of the fact we need to massively improve our rail services in Shropshire, and electrification will be a key part of that to make services run faster and more efficient."
West Midlands Confederation of British Industry regional director Richard Butler said: "The Prime Minister’s decision to back HS2 is exactly the sort of bold, decisive action required to inject confidence in the economy. It sends the right signal around the world that the U.K. is open for business.
“HS2 shows the Government’s commitment to levelling up the nations and regions of the UK. The project will bring jobs, new homes, skills and investment to the areas of the country that need them most.
"Once built, HS2 will bring much needed capacity to our railways and help to realise the government’s promise of an ‘infrastructure revolution’ for the North, Midlands and beyond.
"The time for debate over HS2 is over and the time for delivery is now.”
Midlands Connect is the transport partner of the Midlands Engine and the region's sub-national transport body. Chairman Sir John Peace said: "HS2 is the only shovel ready infrastructure project that can future-proof our rail network, keep rail travel affordable and bring our country together in an environmentally-sustainable way. We must now get on delivering this once-in-a-century upgrade of our rail network to level up the economy and unleash the potential of the Midlands and the North.
"HS2 is already a catalyst for huge regeneration in Birmingham city centre; now, we can get on with bringing the same transformation to the areas around the other Midlands’ HS2-connected stations: Interchange near Solihull, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, the East Midlands HS2 Hub station at Toton and Chesterfield.
"We must now make sure that the benefits of HS2 are maximised through proper integration with regional transport strategies like our Midlands Engine Rail proposals, using the capacity released by HS2 to introduce 700 additional rail services every day, vastly improving journeys for millions of commuters who use the existing network.
Paul Faulkner, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive said: "We must press ahead with transport projects including HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Engine Rail that will spark economic benefits, contribute to a low-carbon future and achieve a more even distribution of wealth across the country."
Katie Trout, director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "After a prolonged period of uncertainty, the confirmation from the government that we will see the delivery of the HS2 project in its entirety is fantastic news.
"This is a truly once in a lifetime opportunity to bring together the UK regions and to support the ambitions to level up the country’s economy, building on the investment and enhanced sense of optimism that we’ve already seen.
"The importance of the additional capacity that HS2 will deliver cannot be underestimated, with people and businesses all over the UK benefitting from more frequent and reliable services. In order to create a 21st Century network that will unlock growth and increase productivity, it must now integrate with projects such as the Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Engine Rail.
"The advent of HS2 has already unlocked new jobs and apprenticeships, and significant additional investment. This will only accelerate as the project advances. Alongside the terminus at Birmingham Curzon, we will see an Interchange at Arden Cross in Solihull, providing huge opportunities for regeneration at these two key locations and beyond.”
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