The head of Transport and Manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Philippa Oldham has expressed her feelings in response to the awarding of High Speed Rail 2 contracts and the expected confirmation of routes to Manchester and Leeds.
Oldham said: “These announcements are welcome steps to HS2 finally becoming a reality. Apart from the potential of directly supporting thousands of jobs, HS2 also provides the step change required to help to remove the bottlenecks in our transport infrastructure by increasing our capacity limits and helping to bridge the North South divide. By creating dedicated high-speed lines it not only provides these fast routes, it also frees up paths on the rest of the network for slower more frequently stopping services and freight trains.
“Increasing UK rail capacity is vital to the country’s economic growth and HS2 is expected to return more than £2 for every £1 invested, boosting annual productivity by over £8bn. HS2 has the great advantage of being designed from scratch for tomorrow’s needs and will create new demand with the explicit aim of helping to rebalance the economy to cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds from London and the South East.
“Commitment to HS2 provides UK engineering industries with greater certainty, which is vital to encouraging companies to invest in future engineering and technical skills. Today’s announcement builds on the good work started by Crossrail with the UK being recognised as a world leader in the development and delivery of railway technology. Over 95% of Crossrail’s budget to date has been won by UK-based businesses – and this is something which could and should be replicated in HS2.”