Both Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) are disappointed by the new House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) report which fails to acknowledge the substantial economic benefits and transformation in journey opportunities which HS2 will bring to the West Midlands region.
Transport for West Midlands managing director, Laura Shoaf responded to the report. She said: ”It is disappointing that the Lords Economic Affairs Committee HS2 report is almost completely devoid of any reference to the West Midlands region which will be at the heart of Britain’s new High Speed Rail network.
“The benefits of HS2 go beyond transport and are already being felt in the West Midlands. New investment from the likes of HSBC is creating jobs today alongside regeneration with new housing in Digbeth and major development proposals at UK Central.”
Malcolm Holmes, executive director West Midlands Rail Executive, added: “HS2 is undoubtedly a large, ambitious project which must be subject to scrutiny, but it is also a crucially important scheme that is necessary to meet the West Midlands’ growing demand for travel and to rebalance the UK economy in our region’s favour”
“ Phase 2 of HS2 will deliver a step-change in connectivity between our region and the key centres of the North of England providing the economic “Drive-train” that will link the Midlands Engine with the Northern Powerhouse”
HS2 Delivers the Step-Change in West Midlands Rail Network Capacity Needed for Growth
The Lords EAC report fails to acknowledge that the West Midlands has seen the highest rail passenger growth of any UK region.
HS2 will provide three new direct trains/hour between central Birmingham and central London, each capable of carrying a thousand passengers, delivering a step-change in capacity provision.
The HS2 line between the West Midlands and London also provides capacity relief for the congested Wolverhampton – Birmingham – Birmingham Airport/NEC - Coventry rail line, enabling more local & regional trains to run on this key transport artery.
HS2 must serve central London
The Lords Economic Affairs Committee report also fails to recognise that each of HS2’s London stations serves an different purpose and market.
The Old Oak Common HS2 Hub station (which will be just 31 minutes from our West Midlands Interchange Station) provides direct connectivity to the City of London, Canary Wharf and Heathrow Airport, whilst the HS2 Euston Station is better located for St Pancras with its direct trains to Europe and also for connections with the Underground network.
Reduction in HS2 Design Specification is Highly Unlikely to Deliver Significant Cost Savings
It is disappointing that the Lords EAC report suggests that de-scoping the HS2 design might lead to significant cost reductions.
Such cost reductions are at best marginal, and likely to be outweighed by the not insubstantial costs associated with any revised HS2 alignments.
Moreover, such a redesign would undoubtedly import significant additional delay into the project which would be a further driver of additional project cost and inefficiency.
Phase 2 of HS2 is “the Drive-train that connects the Midlands Engine with the Northern Powerhouse”
The case for HS2 north of Birmingham, whilst also providing additional network capacity, centres far more on meeting the need to rebalance the UK economy through delivering a quantum shift in connectivity between the key economic centres of the Midlands and North of England.
HS2 will slash journey times and bring the centres of Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds within less than a hour of our region’s 2 HS2 stations.
Similarly, the new East Midlands Hub Station will be less than 20 minutes away by HS2 which, even with a change of train to access central Nottingham, will cut journey times to/from Birmingham in half.