The Sleeper's Blog

25.10.16

If the Midlands makes the most of HS2, the UK will get most out of the Midlands

Maria Machancoses, programme director at Midlands Connect and director at Midlands Engine, writes for RTM about the opportunities HS2 will create for the region and the country.

According to transport secretary Chris Grayling, the first phase of HS2 is set to be completed in the next 10 years. This means that the Midlands, through which HS2 runs, needs to be ready to take full advantage.

For Midlands Connect – the transport partner of Midlands Engine – this means planning and implementing strategic investment, to make sure that the Midlands and the UK can get people and goods to places faster; in turn boosting job prospects, the economy and the UK’s place in the global market. We’ve already received an additional £12m from government which was announced at the Conservative Party conference, signifying the importance Westminster places on investing in the regions. This funding will keep Midlands Connect running until at least 2020, and is the result of huge vocal support we have been receiving from influential members of government since our inception in 2015 who see that the Midlands is vital to creating a strong UK economy.

These funds will enable Midlands Connect to implement its transport strategy beyond March 2017. Key to this will be ensuring the Midlands is ready for the arrival of HS2 in 2026. These measures include smart payment systems, additional coaches on trains and regeneration around HS2 stations. Prime minister Theresa May has already openly praised forward-thinking investments such as the £900m commitment to build 4,000 houses at a revamped HS2-ready Curzon Street station in Birmingham City Centre.

However, preparation for HS2 is just part of the strategy needed if the Midlands is to make the most of HS2 and the UK is to make the most of the Midlands.

Picking up the Pace

Earlier this year, Midlands Connect launched its Picking up the Pace report – the first step in a long-term plan to not only unlock growth and jobs, but also tackle the significant transport challenges that impact both the Midlands and the wider UK. Problems with the transport system affect business performance in terms of efficiency and reliability, which when we are looking to increase our competitiveness globally and introduce more business to the UK, is a major concern.

Picking up the Pace highlighted that with strategic investments in the Midlands rail, road and aviation networks, the region and the wider UK can truly prosper. This transport investment has the potential to create 300,000 new jobs, increase productivity by £1.1bn and save businesses £0.5bn per annum in agglomeration costs – no small feat.

With such a high prize on offer, it is vital we fulfil the potential of the region by building the infrastructure to allow both SMEs and large-sized businesses to get their products and people to where they need to be, faster. For one, HS2 will increase passenger capacity for rail journeys, and we plan to push for 10 extra carriages to each train, helping to relieve pressure on the Midlands motorway grid. Additionally, our recommended improvements for freight transportation via rail will be essential to business in the future.

We are working closely with HS2 and Network Rail to identify schemes that have the ability to unlock economic growth and network capacity. In terms of rail, it is not about the Midlands investing in miles of track. Actions of intent, such as building 4,000 houses at Birmingham’s revamped HS2-ready Curzon Street Station, need to be carried out. Smart card ticket payment across the Midlands would be a much more efficient, and relatively swiftly implemented, way to travel – an initiative that Grayling has given a deadline of 2018 for rail companies to make available to all customers. This would encourage more people to use public transport and connect with each other across cities, easier and faster.

HS2 is not just a matter of linking one end of the country to another, it is a chance to breathe new life into areas across the Midlands that it links, not to mention the countless jobs that the project brings with it. If we look at the rest of the world’s successful economies, it is clear they are not leaning on one single super powered capital, but a network of strong, well-connected, well-developed regions.

As the engine of the UK, the Midlands is strategically important. It already generates £240bn annually toward the national economy and is at the epicentre of the nation’s transport network. Therefore, if the Midlands is moving, so is the rest of the UK. The region has a fantastic opportunity with HS2 to further ignite the economy, but it is essential we have the right infrastructure in place before its arrival. If the Midlands is HS2-ready the rest of the UK can reap the economic benefits.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

Graham Nalty   25/10/2016 at 17:45

HS2 will only create jobs in the Midlands if the HS2 trains actually serve the city centre stations at places such as Stoke, Nottingham, Derby, and Wolverhampton. Figures from Leicester and Leicestershire show that 57% of the benefit of HS2 to Leicester will be lost if passengers are forced to change trains at Toton when travelling between Leicester and Leeds. Over £4 billion could be lost to the Stoke economy if a parkway was built at Crewe and nothing done to link HS2 into Stoke. And a journey between London and Wolverhampton could still be quicker by a through trains on the WCML than via HS2 and changing stations at Birmingham. Better rail services can benefit the Midlands, but HS2 as planned will not be much help.

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

London passengers happier than before, but green shoots still ‘fragile’

26/07/2017London passengers happier than before, but green shoots still ‘fragile’

Rail passengers in London and the south east are more satisfied with their service in 2017 than they were last year, it has been revealed. T... more >
Transport investment must be ‘fairly weighted towards small stations’

25/07/2017Transport investment must be ‘fairly weighted towards small stations’

Investment in transport infrastructure and passenger experience in London needs to be spread more evenly across the system and focus on small sta... more >
TransPennine electrification and Piccadilly upgrade now also in doubt

25/07/2017TransPennine electrification and Piccadilly upgrade now also in doubt

Transport authorities in West Yorkshire have said it is “very disappointing” that electrification may not be completed along the enti... more >

editor's comment

03/07/2017Rapid progress needed

As RTM went to press, the National Infrastructure Commission outlined a list of the ‘top 12’ immediate priorities on which ministers must make rapid progress in the next year. Unsurprisingly, major rail schemes, including HS2, Crossrail 2 and HS3, featured highly in the projects that needed speedy development.  Lord Adonis stated that all of these have been agreed in principle, “but require decisive action to get ... read more >

last word

How do tram and rail passengers compare?

How do tram and rail passengers compare?

David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, analyses the drivers in performance of passenger satisfaction in tram compared to rail. Results published in our recent Tram Passenger Survey (TPS) have seen remarkable levels of satisfaction by the six operators we covered in Blackpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield. Passengers gave them an overall satisfaction score of 93%, a trend that has consistently incre... more > more last word articles >
board2

'the sleepers' daily blog

Triple electrification cancellation – a misstep from Grayling?

25/07/2017Triple electrification cancellation – a misstep from Grayling?

Following last week’s comprehensive set of announcements about HS2 and the closure of Parliament for recess, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there wouldn’t be any more news about major rail projects on the horizon anytime soon. But having sparked anger after cancelling key sections of three major electrification prog... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

How can the new government support rail freight?

20/07/2017How can the new government support rail freight?

Following the recent general election, Maggie Simpson, executive director at the Rail Freight Group, considers what action the government can tak... more >
Building a sustainable future for rail services in Wales

20/07/2017Building a sustainable future for rail services in Wales

Geoff Ogden, interim managing director at Transport for Wales (TfW), talks to RTM about how the organisation is putting sustainable development a... more >
A potential benchmark for engineering quality and architectural design

20/07/2017A potential benchmark for engineering quality and architectural design

Victoria Hills, chief executive officer at the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), gives RTM an update on the work to create a... more >
Simple changes for energy efficiency

20/07/2017Simple changes for energy efficiency

Michelle Papayannakos, rail sustainability specialist at the RSSB, argues that improving the way energy is managed should be a high priority for ... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

A game changer for Wales and Borders

17/07/2017A game changer for Wales and Borders

Andy Thomas, managing director for Network Rail’s Wales route, describes how the infrastructure owner will work more collaboratively than e... more >
‘In the rail business, we’re leading the way’

13/07/2017‘In the rail business, we’re leading the way’

Andy Milner, the chief executive of Amey, tells RTM about the transformation programme that has been taking place in the company since his takeov... more >
Expanding an unprecedented level of style and comfort

13/07/2017Expanding an unprecedented level of style and comfort

At the end of May, Eurostar introduced its new e320 train on the London-Brussels route. Rob Haycocks talks to RTM about what passengers can expec... more >