Latest Rail News

28.01.11

Huge jobs boost from HS2 - Osborne

High Speed 2 will create 10,000 construction jobs and thousands of permanent rail industry posts, Chancellor George Osborne has pledged.

Travel times between London and Birmingham could shrink to as little as half an hour once high-speed services begin in the early part of next decade.

Osborne, on a visit to Birmingham, said: “The project will create 10,000 construction jobs followed by 8,000 permanent jobs in and around Birmingham itself – 4,500 of which will be based in Curzon Street.

“These are not my figures; they are the findings of a new independent study into the project, which is a vital piece of transport infrastructure both for Birmingham and the rest of the country.”

The new city centre station will be built in the Curzon Street / Fazeley Street area in Birmingham’s Eastside regeneration area. The city’s New Street station is also about to undergo a major facelift.

Long-term plans would see the HS2 route extend northwards to Manchester, and potentially north-east into Yorkshire, then maybe on up to Scotland.

HS2 Ltd is considering using the old train-making works at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, as a rail maintenance depot. The closure of the former Alstom and LDV factories in the area meant the loss of 2,000 jobs over the past six years.

Chairman of Centro, the integrated transport authority for the region, Councillor Angus Adams, said: “I welcome the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s comments as they reinforce what we have believed all along about HS2. It is a project which brings massive employment and regeneration opportunities to the region.”

Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip urged businesses to get behind the project and added: “Our own independent study has shown that the substantial boost to West Midlands economic output, average wages and job creation that the Chancellor is talking about could in fact be doubled if the high speed line is combined with improvements to the region’s existing rail network, bringing over 22,000 new jobs to the West Midlands and boosting the regional economy by £1.5bn a year.”

Birmingham is something of a lone voice in backing the scheme. Most county councils in the Midlands oppose it, saying they would suffer all the downsides of the potential environmental impact of the line, but few of the advantages, which they say would accumulate in the major cities, not rural areas.

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