At North East England Chamber’s transport forum hosted by Newcastle Rail College, businesses were able to hear from HS2 Ltd and discuss the importance of the project to the North East.
Stephen Smith, Senior Engagement Manager at HS2 Ltd updated members on the plans for Britain’s new high-speed railway, and the economic benefits it will bring to the region.
Businesses at the meeting raised the importance of large transport infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) as well as investment in local rail and bus links to allow access to these stations.
Members also asked questions around the HS2 supply-chain and the need for improved East Coast Mainline connections to ensure there is capacity for both HS2 trains and local rail connections around the North East.
The Chamber has been supportive of both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in order to increase connectivity and support economic growth across the North and are currently campaigning for improvements to the East Coast Mainline to improve capacity and to ensure HS2 trains can reach the North East.
Marianne O’Sullivan, Chamber policy adviser said: “We were pleased to have HS2 in the region and able to hear the views of our members. Improved connectivity through HS2 will create more capacity for services to the Midlands and throughout the North which will help to open up new markets and supply chains for businesses, and new jobs and training opportunities for people in the North East.
“Without HS2 infrastructure Northern Powerhouse Rail will not be able to be delivered, we therefore need both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail to improve connectivity across the North.
“As part of our Fast Track East Coast campaign we are calling for improvements to be made to the East Coast Mainline. If the North East is to receive any of the economic benefits from Northern Powerhouse Rail or HS2 there needs to be a more resilient connection onto the East Coast Mainline. These key infrastructure projects can act as a driver for investment and regeneration, the North East cannot afford to be left out.”
Stephen Smith, Senior Engagement Manager at HS2 Ltd said:“HS2 is a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebalance Britain. Our trains will serve Darlington, Durham and Newcastle which will improve journey times, create jobs and boost economic growth for the region. Together, HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will enable faster and more frequent journeys across the North.
“More than 2,000 businesses have worked on the project including hundreds of businesses across the North, and over 9,000 jobs have been supported to date across the country. There are many more opportunities for local firms to get involved, and we look forward to working with companies in the North East as work progresses.”
Businesses of all sizes can win contracts through the HS2 supply chain and not just those traditionally aligned to the rail industry. Opportunities exist for those involved in design, planning, security and ecology to name but a few.
Construction of HS2 Phase One between the West Midlands and London is well underway. When construction peaks, HS2 will need an estimated 30,000 people to design and build the full network.