Speech

HS2 Growth and Connectivity Conference

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Explains the challenges ahead in the lead up to 2017, when HS2's construction begins.

Baroness Kramer

Good morning everyone.

It’s a real pleasure to be here today (12 September 2014).

And where better to stage this conference than Birmingham’s Science Museum.

A place that celebrates the pioneering role that the West Midlands has played in the history of transport.

With the magnificent City of Birmingham locomotive at the heart of the collection.

But if the exhibits here remind us of our railway past, our conference today is all about our railway future.

About seizing opportunities that will help us grow and prosper.

Opportunities which are much closer than many people think.

Because we’ll start building HS2 in just 3 years’ time.

Debate has moved on

The project is moving on quickly.

The fundamental case for the new line has been made.

Around capacity, connectivity and economic growth.

And the debate has progressed from whether we should build HS2, to how we should build it.

And how we can make the most of our investment.

We’ve shown recent years that this country can build world class infrastructure.

After High Speed 1 and Terminal 5 at Heathrow, we staged one of the best Olympic Games in history.

Crossrail and Thameslink are being delivered together, on time and on budget.

But we don’t underestimate the complexity of delivering HS2, which dwarfs most of those projects.

So a huge amount of work is going on to prepare for the new line.

Preparing for HS2

We’ve been working closely with the rail industry to get planning completed before the formal procurement process.

And a partnership with the construction industry has been launched, chaired by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Sir David Higgins, who of course heads up HS2.

But as the scheme develops, the focus is moving to cities and regions with HS2 stations, so they can seize the full opportunities.

King’s Cross/St Pancras have shown what’s possible, where the magnificent new stations have inspired a complete regeneration of the area.

In place of the run down King’s Cross of just a few years ago are 2,000 new homes, 50 new buildings, and 10 new public squares.

45,000 people now live and work in King’s Cross – many of them for blue chip employers who have relocated to the area, like Google and the Crick Institute.

Along the HS1 route, stations have attracted around £10 billion of private investment.

So the potential with HS2 is enormous.

We want to see every city on the line take full advantage.

So HS2 stations become hubs for growth and regeneration.

That’s why last summer we created the HS2 Growth Taskforce.

Taskforce

The taskforce, chaired by Lord Deighton, and including Sir Albert Bore, has been advising us on the best way forward. Its report earlier this year made clear the importance of making the right decisions now to prepare cities for the coming of high speed rail.

Among the key recommendations, the taskforce also:

  • urged cities to develop growth strategies explaining how high speed rail will boost their economies.
  • asked local authorities to establish new bodies to implement these strategies.
  • and proposed a central delivery body to support cities and local authorities.

We strongly back the taskforce’s call for local leadership. This is real devolution in practice.

Cities must drive this process themselves.

And take advantage of what is an unparalleled opportunity for regeneration.

But we don’t underestimate the size or the complexity of the task cities face.

Maximising the benefits of HS2 while balancing the interests of different communities and businesses will be challenging. So we’re implementing the recommendations in Lord Deighton’s report.

To make sure that cities get the right support.

We’ve made quick progress identifying a central body. The business case for the new ‘HS2 regeneration and development company’ will be published later this autumn.

We’re also helping cities prepare their growth strategies, and set up local delivery bodies.

And we’ve drawn up a comprehensive timetable to complete the work over the next year

Local examples

Here in Birmingham, the LEP has begun the process of developing its own growth strategy for Curzon Street and the interchange station at Solihull.

The government is providing £2.5 million to speed up this work.

Birmingham has also launched the Curzon Urban Regeneration Company to maximise the benefits of HS2. The company will lead a programme that will ultimately create 14,000 jobs, provide space for 2,000 new homes, and contribute up to £1.3 billion a year to the local economy.

This is pioneering work.

And the experience of Birmingham and Solihull preparing for HS2 may be used as a model for other cities during Phase 2.

Growth strategies will help us gauge the costs and benefits of work around stations, so cities can unlock the full potential of development.

And collaboration on a wider scale will drive further benefits.

One such collaboration is Midlands Connect, a strong partnership between Midlands LEPs, Network Rail, the Highways Agency, local authorities, and business.

Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield have set up programme boards to align their strategies.

And on an even bigger scale, 5 Northern cities have come together to propose the One North transport plan, including a fast trans-Pennine train link with HS2.

These joint initiatives will help us get the most from high speed rail – integrating the new line with the rest of the transport system, and improving connectivity right across the country.

Conclusion

So the race to get ready for HS2 is well under way. We know the new network will be world class.

Superfast

And wonderful to travel on. But it won’t just be a fantastic new railway. It will also be an engine for growth.

A catalyst for change - changing our cities, our communities, our economy, and ultimately our country.

We can’t take these benefits for granted.

We have to work in an organised and structured way to earn them.

With cities driving growth and regeneration - but supported by government, the rail industry and business. The taskforce has reminded us that the clock is ticking. And that there are big challenges to be faced before construction begins in 2017. But we will work in partnership to meet those challenges. And deliver a brilliant new railway – both for Birmingham and for Britain.

Thank you.

Published 12 September 2014