BUSINESS leaders in the West Midlands have welcomed the Transport Secretary’s announcement that the further Phase 2 route will run North from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group chief executive Jerry Blackett said the additional plans prove to business in Europe that the UK is committed to improved infrastructure development.
He said: “Current journey times take 90 minutes between Birmingham and Manchester and around two hours to Leeds. HS2 will halve these times from Birmingham to 45 minutes to London, 41 minutes to Manchester and 57 minutes to Leeds, cutting business time and costs, which will help to maintain the UK as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment. Which is all the more important, given David Cameron’s announcement on a European referendum.
“Fast direct high speed rail connections and lower operating costs will make the West Midlands, at the heart of the network that will stretch from London to Scotland, an increasingly attractive alternative to the overheated South East.”
Mr Blackett said HS2 would also release capacity on existing lines.
He said: “The West Coast Mainline is filling up and businesses tell us they are hampered by congestion. Transferring freight from road to rail makes perfect sense and HS2 allows us to do that and to invest in infrastructure which will be fit for at least another 30 years. Increasing passenger services in the West Midlands helps us do business and also ensures that our businesses can take advantage and recruit from a deeper pool of talent.”