Birmingham and the West Midlands can be the blueprint for how the UK gets the most out of Britain’s new high speed rail network, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said on a visit to the city today (Weds).
The Secretary of State confirmed yesterday (Tues) that the HS2 network linking Birmingham with London, Manchester and Leeds will be built by 2033. The first phase of the £33bn project will be the Birmingham to London line due to open in 2026.
On a visit to the West Midlands on the morning after her landmark decision, she said: “Birmingham and the West Midlands can be the blueprint for how we can get the most out of HS2.”
Ms Greening met with leaders including Birmingham City Council Leader Councillor Mike Whitby, Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip, Centro chairman Angus Adams and Birmingham Chamber chief executive Jerry Blackett.
“Birmingham and the West Midlands will be at the centre of the railway network,” she said. “The job prospects are extremely exciting and I’m absolutely committed to getting the most out of HS2 in Birmingham.”
She said that the 45-minute HS2 journey from Birmingham city centre to London would be similar to many journey times just getting around London.
Ms Greening made the five minute walk from New Street station to the proposed entrance to the Curzon Street HS2 terminal and viewed the site, as well as the original Curzon Street station dating from 1838.
Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said the Transport Secretary had reinforced her commitment to local and regional services.
He said: “The announcement is great news for the West Midlands, but what’s also encouraging is that the Secretary of State acknowledges that local and regional transport is vital to make the most of HS2. We’re going to be working hard to get the most out of HS2 and deliver improvements in transport for people right across our region.”
Birmingham City Council Leader Councillor Mike Whitby said: “I was delighted that the Transport Secretary was able to learn at first hand the great benefits HS2 will bring not only to the country’s transport infrastructure, but also as a major catalyst for regeneration to Eastside, Birmingham and the wider Midlands region.
“We also discussed HS2’s importance within the wider plans to transform transport links within the city and Birmingham’s central role in ensuring the UK stays connected and moving freely.”
Birmingham Chamber chief executive Jerry Blackett said it was important to press ahead with HS2:
“The Secretary of State’s announcement was fantastic news for the city as HS2 will unlock vast levels of development and growth. We need to press ahead now and get HS2 through Parliament as quick as possible so we can get on and build it.”