close
Simon Kirby, HS2

Driving growth through investment in connectivity

HS2 will begin delivering transformational change for the country long before the trains start running in 2026, says HS2 chief executive Simon Kirby.

Britain has a two-speed economy. The differences between the North and the South are stark. The North lacks connectivity and productivity. The South has over-crowded transport and an over-heated property market.

Overall, the result is the country is not fulfilling its economic potential.

"When HS2 begins operations in 2026, it will provide better connections for over 100 UK cities and towns, including eight of the largest cities."

So we need to bring people together in a more equitable and fair way. Perceived proximity, reliability and easy access all increase trade. Improving connectivity is an essential part of raising productivity and prosperity across the country.

These are the reasons why Britain needs high-speed rail.

HS2 wants to begin delivering transformational change for the country long before the trains start running in 2026. Our ambition is to do so at every stage of the project – during the planning and construction of HS2 as well as the operations.

The planning phase of HS2 has brought attention and energy to the complex, long-term issues that lie underneath transport planning. Consequently, people across the country are talking about how to stimulate their local and regional economies – and the role of transport in this.

Cities, regional organisations and businesses can contribute to and benefit from the discussions created by HS2’s planning stage, including proposals for:

  • improving east-west connectivity
  • a National Transport Strategy – as recommended by Hs2’s Chairman, David Higgins, in his second report, “Rebalancing Britain”
  • Transport for the North – to enable the North to speak with One Voice on transport as London already does
  • Lord Deighton’s Growth Taskforce Report – recommendations on how to extract every penny of value from HS2.
  • One North Report from Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield on how they can use transport to create thriving, interconnected cities and towns which will deliver growth for the region and help rebalance the economy.

HS2 Ltd will work directly with around 15 large Tier 1 organisations to build the infrastructure. But around 60% of supply chain opportunities are expected to be awarded to SMEs from across the whole country and from many sectors.

"Local and regional markets will open up and attract foreign investors. Businesses will change their investment and location decisions."

Building HS2 will create nearly 25,000 construction jobs, including approximately 2,000 apprentices. We are determined to use this once-in-generation chance to benefit as many people as possible, to create life-changing opportunities for local and under-represented people and businesses.

The people and organisations who build HS2 will develop skills, processes and products that give a competitive edge globally in high-tech rail, infrastructure and manufacturing. HS2 Ltd will support this through its education outreach programme in schools, apprenticeship programme and the National College for High-speed Rail.

When HS2 begins operations in 2026, it will provide better connections for over 100 UK cities and towns, including eight of the largest cities.

Phase One will shrink journey times between London and Birmingham from 81 to 49 minutes. Phase Two will unlock the North-West and North-East by substantially cutting travel times along its Y-shaped network.

Local and regional markets will open up and attract foreign investors. Businesses will change their investment and location decisions.

Knowledge-sharing and innovation will become easier and faster and, over time, the connected cities will increasingly be able to work, trade and compete as one economic powerhouse.

Simon Kirby is chief executive of HS2 Ltd