New transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has confirmed that he does not intend to scrap plans for the HS2 high speed rail project. The initial plan is for a new high speed railway line from London to Birmingham, with later extensions to Manchester and Leeds.
Last week the campaign group ‘Stop HS2’ called on the government to review the project on cost grounds and the effect it would have on towns and cities near the route but Mr Grayling told BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World This Weekend’: “I have no plans to back away from the HS2 project.”
MPs are set to vote on the first phase of the project later this year and their approval of the bill will allow construction to start on the London to Birmingham section. HS2 Ltd, the company building the line, is also set to hand out £11bn worth of contracts in the coming months.
The transport secretary’s announcement is good news for the Black Country as the HS2 supply chain could provide thousands of business opportunities across many industry sectors in the region over a number of years.
Last Thursday the Black Country Growth Hub held a ‘Meet the HS2 (BIM) design team’ event in partnership with West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and HS2 Ltd hosted by Sandwell Council’s Business Growth Team at Sandwell Business Solutions Centre. The event enabled the region’s firms to meet the specifiers and specialist engineers charged with designing the London to Birmingham leg of the project.
The Black Country Growth Hub, a partnership of public and private sector business leaders and supported by the Regional Growth Fund, has launched a support programme focusing on supplying parts or services to build the £55.7 billion high-speed railway.
OnTrack WM is an online procurement tool developed by the Black Country Growth Hub along with the four Black Country local authorities, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton, to showcase the rail sector expertise in the region and to allow registered suppliers to raise their profile and bid more effectively for rail related contracts, including HS2 contracts.