The Prime Minister’s commitment to the High-Speed Rail project has remained unwavering since his election. It is easy to see why: investment in low carbon infrastructure across the Midlands and the North will help rebalance the economy and deliver the promise to ‘Level Up’ the country. In return, the hope is the newly formed Blue Wall will return to the hand that feeds it in future elections.
But the infrastructure project is not without its doubters. Fiscal concerns regarding the value the British taxpayer is getting for their money will not go away- not least due to the £1.7bn costs incurred due to social distancing, suspensions and delays over the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is therefore important, now more than ever, to be reminded of the importance of the High-Speed rail service capable of getting you from Birmingham to London in 52 minutes.
Financial forecasts suggest the development will create hundreds of thousands of jobs; increase the average GVA of each worker by £680; and deliver a £4 billion increase in economic output every year. In its entirety, the HS2 project is expected to generate the UK economy £92 billion in benefits, as 30 million people will have access to faster, easier and more reliable travel.
In the coming years, voters will have to decide if they agree with the fiscal reservations regarding the investment; or agree with the Prime Minister’s claims that the project is of ‘fundamental value’ to the levelling up of the UK.
However, Midlands based companies and residents can take comfort from the potential £14 billion the project will generate for the regional economy. The interchange station in Solihull will be among the UK’s best, envisaging the creation of 77,000 new jobs, 4,000 new homes and an economic upturn of £4 billion. In addition, 600,000 sq. ft of commercial development is expected in the city centre alongside 36,000 as a result of the new Curzon Street Station. The latest plans for that can be found here.
With the necessity for infrastructure upgrades across the country clear to see, and the financial forecasts looking so promising, the Government are right to push on and deliver the service.
The first phase, inter-connecting the Midlands to the South, will near completion in the future. It is the Government’s hope, as well as the nations, that the benefits to those regions are fruitful and instant. If so, as High Speed Rail builds further up the country, so too will confidence and belief in the vitally important infrastructure project.