Centro has welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s statement that the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link will create 8,000 jobs in Birmingham.
Speaking on a visit to Birmingham, Mr Osborne said the project would transform the Curzon Street area of the city centre, where the terminal is scheduled to be built.
He said: “The project will create 10,000 construction jobs followed by 8,000 permanent jobs in and around Birmingham itself – 4,500 of which will be based in Curzon Street.
“These are not my figures they are the findings of a new independent study into the project, which is a vital piece of transport infrastructure both for Birmingham and the rest of the country.”
HS2 will initially link London to Birmingham, with 250mph trains taking as little as half an hour to travel between the two cities.
It is expected to run from a rebuilt Euston station in London and terminate at a new city centre station built at Curzon/Fazeley Street in Birmingham’s Eastside regeneration area.
The line could then be extended northwards with two forks running up either side of the Pennines.
The west-sided fork would go to Manchester, with the second extension passing through the East Midlands to Sheffield and Leeds. They would then link with existing routes to Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Mr Osborne’s comments come as HS2 Ltd, the firm behind the project, reportedly identified the former LDV and Alstom train-making works in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, as the favoured location for a rail maintenance depot for the line.
This would breathe new life into an area badly hit by the closure of Alstom in 2004 with the loss of more than 1,200 jobs, and LDV, which closed in 2009 with the loss of more than 800 jobs.
Work is due to start on HS2 in 2015 and Centro chairman Councillor Angus Adams said: “I welcome the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s comments as they reinforce what we have believed all along about HS2.
“It is a project which brings massive employment and regeneration opportunities to the region.”
Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip, urging business to get behind the project, added: “Our own independent study has shown that the substantial boost to West Midlands economic output, average wages and job creation that the Chancellor is talking about could in fact be doubled if the high speed line is combined with improvements to the region’s existing rail network, bringing over 22,000 new jobs to the West Midlands and boosting the regional economy by £1.5bn a year.
“What Mr Osborne has said highlights the real importance of the high speed project to the West Midlands.”