23 February 2017
Business leaders in Greater Birmingham have hailed the "landmark" announcement that HS2 has been granted Royal Assent.
The announcement paves the way for work to begin on the first phase of the project, which will see high speed trains travel from London to the centre of Birmingham in under 50 minutes.
As well as taking around 30 minutes off the current journey time and reducing congestion on existing lines, HS2 is expected to deliver an additional £14bn to the UK economy, as well as creating 104,000 new jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner said: "Today is a landmark day as the issuance of Royal Assent removes uncertainty and makes the project a reality and not a possibility.
"This morning’s news will provide the catalyst required to improve connectivity across the region, create more capacity and place Birmingham at the heart of the national network, all of which will help rebalance the national economy and help unlock the latent potential of this city and the wider region.
"Moreover, we must remember the wider benefits the project will bring. In particular, reducing journey times will bring regions closer together and open up new avenues for our local businesses to trade with each other in skills and products and give them the tools required to grow and prosper."
Although Royal Assent has only just been granted, the region has already taken advantage of HS2-related momentum.
The National College for High Speed Rail, which will train the next generation of engineers, is being built in Birmingham’s Learning Quarter and is due to open in September.
HS2 Ltd has opened its construction headquarters in Birmingham city centre, eventually employing up to 1,300 people, while businesses such as HSBC, Jacobs Engineering and Carter Jonas have citied HS2 as a major factor behind their city centre relocations.
Meanwhile, global construction and support services firm Interserve is building its new regional HQ at UK Central in Solihull to take advantage of the planned Interchange Station, the first HS2 stop on the route out of London.
The region’s three Growth Hubs are also providing SMEs with targeted support to help them win millions of pounds of contract opportunities created by Britain’s biggest infrastructure project in decades.