The West Midlands must be served by direct high speed rail services to Europe if it is to take full advantage of the tremendous opportunity HS2 brings, says the chairman of the region’s transport authority.
Cllr John McNicholas, chairman of Centro, said high speed rail services would be able to reach Paris and Brussels from Birmingham in less than three hours.
Through services to other cities on the growing European high speed rail network, such as Amsterdam and Frankfurt, would also be possible.
“High speed rail presents a tremendous opportunity for the West Midlands bringing jobs and investment,” he said.
“Journey times from Birmingham to London, Leeds and Manchester will be halved by high speed services, but it is essential we’re also able to take full advantage of improved European connections.”
Cllr McNicholas said it would be a missed opportunity if high speed rail passengers from the West Midlands had to change trains or even stations in London in order to access international services.
He said provision must be made for passport and customs control at Birmingham’s city centre station in Moor Street and at the Birmingham Interchange station.
“I welcome the proposed direct link between HS2 and the existing HS1 line from London to Europe but it must be capable of allowing passengers in the West Midlands fast, direct rail travel to the continent.”
Cllr McNicholas said the current proposal for a single track HS1-HS2 link may prove inadequate to meet future demand and added that the West Midlands was working closely with Transport for London and other authorities to ensure UK regions could be served by European connections.
“I urge the Government to consider a fully segregated two track link between HS2 and HS1, which could cater not only for high speed rail services from the West Midlands to a range of destinations on the continent but which would also facilitate new high speed rail links between the region and economic centres in East London and Kent.
“High speed rail is great news for our region and we want to see fast, direct links with European cities.”