Business News ...from page 16

He said: “HS2 is not just an enormous project in itself, it can transform the infrastructure of the country. There is no freight on HS2, it is people only – It will free up capacity on the existing railways to allow freight to come off the road network. “Once the full network is

complete it is expected that HS2 trains will carry over 300,000 passengers a day, and up to 48 HS2 trains will be running on the rail network every hour. Martin said high-speed rail would

help to rebalance an economy over-reliant on the ‘overheated’ South-East – despite the detractors continuing to question the rationale for HS2. “A significant element of the

business case for it is about sharing the economy around the UK. It is set to be a catalyst for economic growth and improvement. You will always have people who are not keen on HS2 – you are going to disrupt some communities, and there is always going to be upheaval. We will eventually start seeing the benefits that Birmingham will get and there will be a much more positive view of it from business as well as those whose skills, careers and prosperity will be enhanced by it.” To fly the flag for the college and

its aims, the complex held an open day during March, described by Martin as ‘super-busy’ and even attracting a delegation from Bulgaria to inner-city Birmingham on the same day. “We are learning all the time –

we have social media campaigns, we promote through our website, we have lots of events, we go to schools and careers events. The place is buzzing.” By 31 December 2026, when the Birmingham to London line is finally due to make its long-awaited debut, thousands of recruits trained in the city should be enjoying the fruits of the varied career opportunities made available by the college to entrants - ranging from young students to mature applicants and existing workers.

On track (from left): Raj Kandola (GBCC), Paul Faulkner, Anne Shaw (West Midlands Combined Authority), Andy Street and Johnny Ojeil

Mayor outlines plan to tackle city’s congestion

By Jessica Brookes

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and Chamber (GBCC) patron Arup hosted the West Midlands mayor Andy Street at an event aimed at supporting his objectives to get the region’s transport system moving again. Building on the work of the recently-published

GBCC report on congestion, the mayor and the West Midlands Combined Authority were given a platform to share ideas on how the region can overcome congestion related issues.

‘What today is all about is how transport is going to actually keep up with the demands of the economy’

The report found that congestion costs businesses

up to £407m a year, and emphasises that congestion affects staff punctuality (28 per cent), reduces productivity (21 per cent) and increases company costs (19 per cent). The event, held at the National College for High

Speed Rail, brought together representatives from transport bodies, local authorities and business organisations to discuss proactive solutions required to combat the region’s transport needs. The mayor gave the audience an overview on his

priorities for transport and movement in the region and how the agenda has progressed during his tenure.

Mr Street said: “We know that we’ve had a real

turn around in our economy, and what today is all about is how transport is going to actually keep up with the demands of the economy. “As you will see, there is quite a step change in the

degree of public transport available across the region. Excluding the cost of HS2, there is £5bn pounds worth of investment. The new transport network will genuinely give alternatives.” Attendees, including representatives from

Transport for West Midlands, University of Birmingham and Highways England discussed transport network resilience, implications of policy changes, and measures required to support change. Johnny Ojeil, director of transport planning at

Arup, said: “Arup is delighted to be involved in helping shape the transport strategy for the region and in particular working closely with the Chamber and the many businesses they represent.” Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said:

“The businesses that participated in this event made it clear that not only are they affected by congestion, but they also want to play their part in overcoming these deep seated issues. “While it is reassuring that the Mayor has made

tackling congestion a key priority of his tenure, it is clear that these deep-seated issues can only be effectively challenged if we adopt a holistic and joined up approach which encourages collaboration between public and private sector bodies. We look forward to working with Arup and the mayor’s office to ensure the views of business are recognised.”

Rail firms in bidding to run first HS2 services

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham have hailed “another important landmark for the future of rail travel” after the Government invited bidding for the next West Coast franchise – which will include running the first HS2 services. Transport secretary Chris

Grayling (pictured) has invited companies to bid for the new West Coast Partnership franchise, which


will run from 2019 until 2031 and could see a single organisation operating all aspects of HS2. The first phase of the

HS2 project – from London to Birmingham – is due to open in 2026. The winner of the bidding

process will take on the existing West Coast franchise, as well as overseeing the introduction of HS2.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner said: “This announcement is another important landmark for the future of rail travel in this

country as the victorious bidder

will not only take control of the West Coast Line but will also oversee the roll-out of the initial phase of HS2.

“We want to see a railway

service that gives local businesses the chance to access new products and skills. “We know the benefits HS2 will

bring to our region and the country as a whole - it is vital the successful bidder puts the foundations in place to make sure we are ready to grasp all of the opportunities that this once in a generation project will bring.”

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