Commercial Director, Business Birmingham

From a personal view, as someone who has lived here all my life, this is terrific news.  And professionally, working at Birmingham’s inward investment agency, it marks the beginning of a truly golden period.

Connectivity has always been one of our greatest strengths, even before the arrival of HS2, but additional transport plans are predicted to stimulate growth through greater access to greater numbers of skilled people.

Where railways lead, prosperity follows – the industrial revolution of the 21st centuryWhere railways lead, prosperity follows – the industrial revolution of the 21st century

After years of planning and consultation, work is now starting on a new high speed rail line – High Speed 2 (HS2) – between London and Birmingham, bringing the UK’s capital and second city to within just 38 minutes of each other.

And long before the first arrivals board is due to light up, I’m proud that Birmingham, at the heart of the Midlands region, is already enjoying the benefits of the largest infrastructure project in Europe.

Birmingham’s time has come, economically and politically, and that’s largely because of HS2.  From a personal view, as someone who has lived here all my life, this is terrific news.  And professionally, working at Birmingham’s inward investment agency, it marks the beginning of a truly golden period.    

The first trains are due to start operating in 2026 but my city hasn’t sat around waiting.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  A strategy was developed very quickly and outlined how to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by HS2.

Regionally, it’s estimated that 104,000 jobs will be created or safeguarded, that there will be a huge uplift in the skills level of local people, 2,000 apprenticeships will be created and there will be millions of pounds of contract opportunities for local SMEs.  All of this means the region will deliver an additional £14bn to the UK economy and two million people across the region will be directly connected to high speed rail.

The huge investment being put into regional infrastructure because of HS2 will make it even more attractive for business and inward investment.  We’re already seeing major investment in the city from the likes of HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Jacobs Engineering to mention just a few, with other large corporates also citing HS2 as a contributing factor.

From an international perspective, we’ll be even closer to European markets.  Business Birmingham is talking to companies about relocating their UK headquarters here and avoiding the high operational costs of London while still being exceptionally well connected, thanks also to the increasing number of routes in and out of Birmingham Airport.

Connectivity has always been one of our greatest strengths, even before the arrival of HS2, but additional transport plans are predicted to stimulate growth through greater access to greater numbers of skilled people.

With the first train journey still nine years away, this long-term planning is already bearing fruit for Birmingham.  My city has its sights firmly set on becoming the home of the 21st century industrial revolution and it’s thrilling to be part of that journey.