The Government’s investment in HS2 is the most important public investment project in the UK for decades. As such, a key part of the Industrial Strategy should be to take advantage of the opportunities that HS2, and indeed HSR affords. Our response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, which can be accessed here in full, includes the following key points:

  • The Government’s investment in HS2 is the most important public investment project in the UK for decades, and as such a key part of the Industrial Strategy should be to take advantage of the opportunities it affords.
  • The huge improvements in connectivity between many of Britain’s largest cities offer the opportunity to transform regional economies and drive productivity growth. Indeed, we believe High Speed Rail is the only way to rebalance the economy and take pressure off the south east.
  • The investment in the sector which HS2 delivers offers the opportunity to create a high value growth sector in the global growth area of high speed rail, here in the UK. We need to begin to view the UK’s expertise in rail and construction, and in particular in high speed rail, as a potential export sector.
  • In order to take advantage of these opportunities, we should explore the creation of a “HS2 International” which brings together HSR delivery businesses and the government-owned client body HS2 Ltd to create a public-private partnership to market the UK skill base and experience abroad, offering a whole exportable package to potential customers.
  • In a post-Brexit world, we believe that common standards are vital to opening export markets and are a key enabler of productivity. It is vital therefore that UK suppliers continue to contribute to the development of European and international standards, ensuring that UK manufactured products do not require extensive rework and testing for export. If standards diverge in future, non-tariff barriers will be created and manufacturers will have the unwanted cost of operating in different jurisdictions.
  • As in other industrial sectors, critical to private sector investment is the ability for business to take a long-term view. Whilst HS2 offers this to an extent, we believe the Industrial Strategy should commit to HS2 being only the start of the delivery of a wider high speed rail network in the UK. This commitment alone will allow greater private sector investment and the more efficient delivery of HS2 itself.
  • The Industrial Strategy should also consider links between England and Scotland. Whilst the goal of working together to achieve a 3-hour journey time between London and Glasgow/Edinburgh were agreed between UK and Scottish Ministers in Spring 2016 so far no plans have been developed that get anywhere close to achieving this aim.
  • In the absence of a clear plan to achieve this target, HSRIL proposes that a competition is let to find the best value solution towards achieving this 3-hour goal through a major new challenge fund. This would include technical solutions and funding & financing proposals to achieve journey time and other objectives on the lengthy route between the northern limit of HS2 and the central belt of Scotland. We are confident that the private sector will welcome this opportunity to develop proposals.

Speaking about the submission, our Director Will Roberts commented:
“HS2 represents an unprecedented public investment, and both the industry and Government needs to work together to make sure the UK makes the most of the opportunities it creates. We should use it to turn high speed rail into an export product for the UK, selling the expertise to build high speed lines around the world.”