Key public and private sector organisations have today (Friday May 16) formally submitted petitions to the HS2 Bill in a bid to win an even better deal for the West Midlands.
Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre, transport authority Centro and other key regional stakeholders have submitted petitions while remaining staunch supporters of the high speed rail project.
They believe the Bill can go further in ensuring the region wins the maximum benefits possible both for passengers and the local economy.
Independent research has found that the West Midlands can secure a £4 billion a year economic boost and more than 50,000 new jobs by making sure the region’s two high speed rail stations are well connected to existing transport links and good use is made of the additional rail capacity released by HS2.
The organisations have now used the petition process, which is agreed Parliamentary procedure, to formally ask for the Bill to be amended to reflect the full potential benefits of the project and the measures needed to achieve them.
These include the need for high quality interchange facilities between the region’s existing rail stations and the two HS2 stations – one in Birmingham city centre (Birmingham Curzon) and one on land close to the airport/NEC site (HS2 Interchange).
Speaking on behalf of the petitioners, Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council and Chairman of the West Midlands HS2 Strategic Board, said: “HS2 can play a key role in securing the future economic prosperity of the West Midlands and we back the project 100 per cent.
“However, if we are to secure the maximum benefits possible from HS2 we need to make sure the project’s design best meets the needs of our region.
“Submitting these petitions does not weaken our support for HS2, it’s simply accepted practice to enable us to formally seek those changes to the Bill that are important to the West Midlands.”
Among the assurances being sought by the petitions is the need for imaginative and high quality designs for the two HS2 stations and their close integration with the Curzon and UK Central masterplans – blueprints for the regeneration and development of land surrounding the stations.
Birmingham City Council and Centro are also seeking provision for a future link between HS2 and the existing HS1 high speed line to the Channel Tunnel.
This would enable direct services between the West Midlands and Europe without the need to change between London’s Euston and St Pancras stations.
Also highlighted in the petitions is the need to fully plug HS2 into the local transport network by way of a common concourse between the Curzon and Moor Street Stations, a tram extension to Curzon and an improved alignment of the proposed people-mover linking the HS2 Interchange with the airport, NEC and Birmingham International rail station.
Other assurances being sought include better mitigation measures during proposed improvement works to the M42 Junction 6 and provision to maximise employment at the proposed HS2 depot facility at Washwood Heath.