Our annual conference in Birmingham saw enthusiastic backing for the HS2 project from a stellar line-up of speakers including Transport Minister, Paul Maynard MP, and the new Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street.

Attended by over 140 delegates from a combination of industry, LEP’s and local and regional stakeholder organisations, the conference sought to address the regional economic benefits of Phase 2a and 2b of the HS2 project and considered high speed rail as a key component of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy.

In his first speech since becoming HS2 Minister, Paul Maynard MP, stressed that HS2 will be an integral part of the overall UK rail network, saying:

“HS2 will be the backbone of Britain’s railways, creating more seats for passengers and improving connections between our great cities.

“As the minister responsible for both HS2 and rail, I am clear that this government will make sure HS2 becomes integral to our current rail network and expands and enhances our railways, freeing up space on existing lines and generating jobs and economic growth throughout the country.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street shared the Minister’s enthusiasm for the project and particularly highlighted the transformational opportunity it will deliver for the West Midlands itself, saying:

“The size of the enterprise zone around the HS2 station at Curzon Street is as big as all the others in the UK put together.”

In summing up the conference, HSRIL Director Jim Steer concluded that:

“The best thing about this event is that we no longer debate whether HS2 should happen or not. We debate how we make the most of the remarkable opportunities it affords. HS2 can and will transform regional economies all across Britain – and it is inspiring seeing how much planning and preparation is underway to make sure it delivers.”

The conference was chaired by BBC presenter Steph McGovern. Other speakers included Gordon Wakeford, Industry Chair, Rail Supply Group, Dyan Crowther,Chief Executive, HS1, Paul Griffiths,Phase 2 Development Director, HS2 Ltd, Maria Machancoses, Midlands Engine Director & ‎Midlands Connect Programme Director, Bob Sleigh,Leader, Solihull MBC and Deputy Metro Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Anna Ince, CEO, Resonate and Chair, Creating Conditions for Market Growth, RSG, Tom Bridges, Chief Officer Economy and Regeneration, Leeds City Council, Stephen Gasche,Principal Transport Planner – Rail, Kent County Council, Huw Rhys Lewis,Managing Director, Urban Growth Company Solihull, Mike Noakes,Head of Rail and Infrastructure, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Iain Anderson,Director, HSRIL and Executive Development Director, Colas Rail, Will Roberts,Director, HSRIL and Communications Director UK & Ireland, Alstom, Nick Fletcher, Director, HSRIL and Executive Director, Fusion, Nadia Savage,HS2 Director, Laing O’Rourke.