BCC: confirmation of HS2 route a boost to business communities

Commenting on the government’s confirmation of the route for HS2’s Phase 2b, plus the award of the preliminary works contract for the London-West Midlands route (Phase 1), Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“For many business communities, especially in the cities of the Midlands and the North, the confirmation of HS2’s route north of Birmingham will come as a real boost.

“Alongside a huge increase in rail capacity, HS2 will also deliver work for supply chain and construction companies around the UK, help cities and towns secure large-scale investments, and build business confidence.

“Business communities want to see the decision-making process for HS2 continue at pace, and will be pleased that the government has also moved to award the first big contracts for the project, so that work can begin on the ground as soon as possible.

“Alongside other improvements to the road network and to conventional railways, HS2 is hugely important to boosting the UK’s transport network and increasing connectivity across the country.”

Leading Chambers of Commerce, representing many regional business communities along the HS2 route in the Midlands and the North, have also commented:

On the route from Birmingham to Yorkshire and the East Midlands:

Paul Faulkner, CEO of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said:

“While finalising the Birmingham to London route and securing Royal Assent remains hugely important, HS2 has always been about the bigger picture for businesses here in the West Midlands.

“Realisation of a network connecting our major cities is how businesses will see the true benefits of HS2 in the future, and we are delighted that Birmingham will be at the heart of that network.”

Gerald Jennings, President of Leeds Chamber of Commerce (part of West and North Yorkshire Chamber), said:

“HS2 will be the biggest single investment in the north of England in a generation, and will transform rail journeys between some of the UK’s largest cities. This announcement brings a degree of certainty, which in turn will encourage further business investment in the region.

“HS2 will improve connectivity and create greater capacity for increased rail patronage, something we know influences where businesses locate. A track is yet to be laid, and already we have seen positive moves from developers who see Leeds and the wider city region as a place to invest.”

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said:

“The confirmation of the second phase of HS2 is great news for the country, and great news for business in the East Midlands. During a time of unknowns, the announcement today gives businesses a certainty that will help them plan for the future and sends a bold signal to the rest of the world on the type of country we want to be seen as. It’s now important that work to deliver this begins as early as possible.

“The line from Birmingham up to Leeds, via a hub station at Toton in the East Midlands and through South Yorkshire, will deliver the once in a generation step-change in capacity that that we need to move the goods and people that our growth demands. But this has always been about much more than just a railway line. Better connecting our businesses and communities in the East Midlands with the great cities to the North, West and South of us, brings fantastic opportunities for closer working and the benefits that derive from that. The development of the route itself will give a host of opportunities for East Midlands businesses, from the direct construction of the line, through to the enabling work and to those that will supply contractors at all levels. There’s a challenge for us now to ensure we produce the skills that will be needed to deliver this work.

“But perhaps most importantly, the confirmation of HS2 and the Hub station at Toton gives the East Midlands a focal point for development in the region that sits right in the centre of our geography, cutting across political boundaries. It is served by the communities in our three cities and counties, has easy access to our six universities, and is a stone’s-throw from the largest pure freight airport in the country. Importantly it is surrounded by existing infrastructure and land where there are opportunities for further development.”

On the route from Crewe to Manchester:

Chris Fletcher, Marketing & Policy Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:

“This announcement marks another significant step forward in the delivery of what is not only Britain’s largest infrastructure project, but also one of its most needed. Momentum is now gathering and with the various stages now being passed, it will not be long before construction can actually start.”

John Dunning, President, South Cheshire Chamber, said:

“Confirmation of the high speed line going via Crewe is a fantastic opportunity for local growth and inward investment.

“All eyes are now upon the area as a place to work, live and invest. We see evidence of this at the Chamber as we take enquiries from businesses looking to relocate to Crewe or set up new ventures that can benefit from its excellent connectivity.

“Crewe was invented by the railway 175 years ago and, inevitably, was showing signs of its age, but the fact that it is going to be rejuvenated by the railway is fantastic news. The fact that we have now had a positive announcement on a HS2 hub station for Crewe is the icing on the cake.”

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