West Midlands braced for new opportunities as firms gear up for arrival of HS2

The introduction of HS2 services in the West Midlands promises to bring about an “explosion of economic opportunities”, according to those responsible for its development and implementation.

Anticipation is building in the region as decisions on who will construct two new stations in Birmingham are set to be confirmed in 2019. The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is urging firms within the locality to ensure they are well prepared ahead of HS2 services commencing so they can take full advantage of the opportunities available to them as a result.

Birmingham Curzon Street and Interchange stations which will be built for the high-speed rail network are expected to create 50,000 jobs in Birmingham and Solihull alone. It’s also anticipated there will be a huge investment in civil engineering work while an extensive programme of preparatory works, ranging from archaeology investigations to nature conservation continues.

Lisa Hamilton, WMCA HS2 project manager, said: “The two new stations will be the physical embodiment of HS2 here in the West Midlands but for many workers and companies, it will be the construction of the stations which delivers the major benefits. The designers have just been appointed by HS2 Ltd, so it will be several months before we know what the stations will look like, but we do know that the arrival of HS2 is a once in lifetime level of investment in the region’s infrastructure. The delivery of the two HS2 stations will require a vast supply chain, creating thousands of sub-contract opportunities and jobs, the majority of which will be construction related.”

Back in February, Arup and WSP were among the teams of architects, designers and engineers to be announced as the successful applicants to be awarded contracts to design four HS2 stations that are due to open in 2026.

The teams will be expected to provide a number of key aspects including architecture which enables accessibility for all, including step-free access from street-to-seat which is simple and easy to navigate and a “people-centred design”, which offers high-quality customer experience including shopping, business facilities, and opportunities for art and leisure.

Huw Rhys Lewis, managing director for the Urban Growth Company, which is coordinating infrastructure investment and development around the HS2 Interchange Station site in Solihull, added: “HS2 is the catalyst for huge amounts of growth across the region. The new interchange station will be complemented by the much wider plans for The Hub, which includes the NEC, Birmingham Airport, Jaguar Land Rover and Birmingham Business Park, as well as infrastructure improvements. “These plans will see The Hub have a major impact on the local area improving connectivity and stimulating the local economy, with the potential to create up to 77,000 new jobs, 775,000 square metres of commercial space, 4,000 homes and £4.1bn GVA per year.”

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