“HS2 is not just a new railway; it is a springboard for economic growth,” Commercial Secretary Lord Deighton affirmed today (19 September 2013) while speaking at a conference in Birmingham on the wider benefits of the scheme.
In his first public address since taking up the mantle as chairman of the HS2 Growth Taskforce, Lord Deighton said that HS2 will help generate jobs, rebalance the economy and secure Britain’s future prosperity. He also outlined the role of the taskforce and made clear that its focus on unlocking the potential of HS2 would be relentless.
Speaking at the Greengauge 21 conference in Birmingham, Lord Deighton said:
As a country we have underinvested in our infrastructure for too long. We need to think big and make bold decisions to stay globally competitive.
Big projects bring big rewards, with recent research setting the economic benefit of HS2 as £15 billion a year when it opens. But we don’t have to wait until then to see the rewards. We are already preparing around the country, building up skills, improving our ability in the supply chain, developing our stations.
And it’s not just about the quantifiable benefit. We’ve seen the impact of major projects like the Olympics, which have transformed the way the world thinks about Britain. We proved that we can deliver, and that makes people want to invest here. HS2 has the potential to do the same and it’s vital that we get to work now to make sure we squeeze every last benefit from this game changing project.
Having met in Birmingham earlier this month, the Growth Taskforce will be touring the country as part of its evidence gathering. Crucially this will include hearing the views of local partners from those towns and cities not directly served by HS2, and hearing about their ambitions for growth as a result of HS2 – and what more can be done to realise those ambitions.
Key areas of interest for the taskforce will be better connectivity, growth and regeneration and how to prepare the workforce and supply chain ahead of construction. They will publish an initial report next month, setting out the scope of their work. Early in the new year they will publish a final report with a series of recommendations for government.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin made clear last week that HS2 is only one part of the government’s plan to radically improve transport infrastructure in the UK and that including £16 billion for HS2, there would be over £70 billion of capital investment in transport in the next Parliament.