The West Midlands is keen to work with the East Midlands, North and Scotland, as well as enjoying faster links with London and Europe.
Shortly after the announcement of the Yes decision the Transport Secretary confirmed HS2 will connect with HS1 and also revealed improved journey times.
We’ve consistently made the case for the released capacity HS2 brings to our region to not only safeguard, but increase local, regional and freight services in the West Midlands.
However, much has been made of journey times by HS2 opponents who claim £17bn is a lot of money to ‘shave a few minutes’ off a rail journey.
Unfortunately they often erroneously suggest the cost is £32bn (which is the cost for the full Y-route to Leeds and Manchester, not London to Birmingham).
The HS2 journey time from Birmingham – London Euston is 45 minutes. Now that’s a substantial saving on the current 1h 24m journey, hardly ‘shaving a few minutes.’
But it’s not just about London.
Birmingham to Manchester is currently 1h 30, but will be reduced to 41 minutes.
Birmingham to Leeds will also be halved from two hours to 57 minutes.
The northern times apply when phase 2 has been completed. When phase one has been completed passengers living along the West Coast Main Line will be able to access HS2 in south Staffordshire and benefit from reduced journey times.
This means from the completion of phase one passengers in Glasgow, Preston, Manchester, Crewe, Stafford etc will enjoy reduced times with classic compatible trains able to run on conventional and high-speed lines.
There will be more about these WCML benefits in forthcoming blogs.