The development of HS2 in the West Midlands will turbocharge the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as it brings forward 175,000 new jobs and generates some £20bn investment.
High speed rail will also accelerate the progress towards a zero carbon West Midlands by 2041, set out in the #WM2041 strategy, in part through creating capacity on the existing rail network for improvements to local passenger and freight services.
These are just some of the benefits to businesses, people and places laid out in the ‘Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy 2021: The Defining Decade – The Midlands high speed path to recovery’ that has been published.
It describes how the West Midlands will be transformed in the next decade, highlighting that by 2030, the region will have two new world class, high speed rail stations, which will be accessible by two million people.
The report also looks at the investment opportunities its arrival unlocks, which will result in more than 175,000 new jobs, £20bn additional economic output and a comprehensive public transport system that encourages sustainable travel.
As well as setting out how authorities and organisations are working together to make the most of the project, the document also looks at progress made over the six years since the publication of the original HS2 Growth Strategy.
The region is seeing unprecedented investment in its transport network, including the four Metro tram line extensions currently under construction and new commercial and housing developments planned around the Curzon Street and Interchange stations.
Due to the progress of the project, the jobs and investment totals have been revised upwards for the refreshed strategy.
Commenting, Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street said: “While the HS2 train may not be here for a few years yet, we are already seeing exactly how major infrastructure investment accelerates regional growth.
“So far, 13,000 jobs, including more than 400 apprenticeships, have been created across the project and more than 300 companies in the Midlands have been working in the HS2 supply chain, with even more to come.
“With thousands of jobs already created, it is now clear that our earlier projections were too cautious and our latest research suggests the project could eventually lead to around 175,000 new jobs for the West Midlands.
“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the West Midlands was the fastest growing regional economy and the opportunities offered by HS2 were a key part of this success. Post pandemic, it is even more vital as an anchor to drive our recovery forward.
“This strategy will now guide us as we seek to maximise investment and seek bold new opportunities presented by HS2. We must make the most out of this once-in-a-generation opportunity."
Leader of Solihull Council and West Midlands Combined Authority Lead for Environment, Energy and HS2, Councillor Ian Courts added: “This an economic growth project for the whole of the West Midlands.
“The strategy shows HS2 will have a positive impact across the region, not just in the developments planned around Curzon Street in Birmingham, or HS2’s Interchange Station in Solihull, but also through projects like the Metro extension to Brierley Hill.
“HS2 can also play a key role in achieving our climate change targets. One of our next steps is to develop our strategy with Government to show how HS2 can deliver improvements to our local transport network, support our climate change ambitions and further develop our green economy.”
The West Midlands was the first region in the UK to launch an HS2 Growth Strategy, publishing its original strategy in 2015, which mapped out how the region aimed to capitalise on the opportunities HS2 created, as well as how the region would respond to challenges created by the largest infrastructure project in Europe.