HS2 partnership in talks to minimise impact of construction project

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Political and transport leaders have held talks on how to keep the West Midlands transport system functional once construction begins on the HS2 high speed railway.

Transport minister Jesse Norman, Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan, HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston, Martin Frobisher, route managing director of London North Western for Network Rail, and representatives from the Department for Transport all came together for the inaugural meeting of the Resilience Partnership.

Held at the offices of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in Birmingham, the group discussed how to keep the region open for business and to sustain growth during the lengthy HS2 construction period.

Work on the line on the line between London and Birmingham is expected to begin in early 2019, with some preparation works in 2018. The first trains are scheduled to run in 2026.

There will be two new stations built in the region – Birmingham Curzon Street and Birmingham Interchange at the NEC/Birmingham Airport.

They will be the largest new stations to be built in the West Midlands since Victorian times.

Construction of the line and the stations will be a massive operation that will entail a number of crossings over existing rails and roads.

There is potential for significant disruption on the regional motorway and road networks during this time unless carefully managed.

The Resilience Partnership has been set up to do this, as well as develop a template for collaboration for other major investment programmes on a similar scale.

Mr Norman said: “We are keen to do what we can to minimise disruption from construction works.

“HS2 will become the backbone of our national rail network and improve vital connections between eight of the ten biggest cities in our country.

“It will deliver greater capacity for freight and faster journeys for passengers, boosting economic growth.”

Andy Street said: “HS2 will be worth billions to the West Midlands economy once complete but to build it is going to be a massive undertaking.

“We need to establish how we deal with traffic diversion routes and how to keep them flowing, because they will have a critically important part to play during that construction phase.

“That is why it is so important that all the bodies involved come together to plan how best to cause the minimum disruption possible and keep the region moving.”

The West Midlands will eventually be at the heart of the HS2 network.

The first phase of construction will be between Euston station to Birmingham Interchange. A spur will link this with Birmingham Curzon in the Eastside area of Birmingham city centre.

Together the two station developments are at the heart of regeneration projects expected to create 50,000 jobs in Birmingham and Solihull.

Pictured at the inaugural Resilience Partnership meeting are, from left: Highways England chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan, HS2 chief executive, Mark Thurston, joint head of Midlands and South West at the DfT, Barbara King, West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, transport minister Jesse Norman, TfWM managing director, Laura Shoaf, TfWM director of network resilience, Anne Shaw and Network Rail’s route managing director of London North Western, Martin Frobisher.