HS2 will transform our economy
At the end of last month, the LEP welcomed news that the Government’s HS2 bill had passed with overwhelming cross-party support.
HS2 is a multi-billion pound project to build Britain’s new high speed rail network. It offers Sheffield City Region a once in a generation opportunity to re-balance the national economy from the south east to the north by creating thousands of good jobs locally and further developing our engineering skills base.
Support from our local business community for the HS2 project has been very positive. Our readiness to capitalise on this opportunity was made clear by the numbers of senior business leaders that attended the LEP’s recent HS2 Supply Chain conference. LEP Board member and Henry Boot Construction Managing Director, Simon Carr, co-hosted the event with HS2 Ltd.
HS2 sent a team of experts which included the project’s procurement supremo, Richard Mould, who spoke openly with business leaders about supply chain opportunities. At this early stage, the HS2 team were keen to focus on the nearer-term opportunities that the project will bring for suppliers – areas where HS2 Ltd project managers will no-doubt want to utilise the City Region’s engineering expertise and strength in manufacturing and materials.
The scale of business potential from HS2 cannot be understated. HS2 is a 42.6 billion pound project, with 330 miles of new track, four new stations and five stations to be redeveloped. It is one of the biggest and most ambitious infrastructure projects in Europe in the past decade. The breadth of opportunities will be huge – tunnels, stations, demolition, railway systems, design services, depots and signalling, to name just a few.
HS2 is a vital part of our Strategic Economic Plan by which we aim to transform the Sheffield City Region economy over the next decade. Our plan sets out how we will create 70,000 new private sector jobs and 6,000 new businesses over the next ten years.
A large part of our transport ambitions are focused on making sure that our public transport networks better connect our towns and cities and ensure that the entire City Region can access the benefits of 21st century travel. Enhancing engineering skills through HS2 is also an integral part of our Strategic Economic Plan, which sets out our goal to bring a rail engineering training academy to the City Region.
It is clear that the success of HS2 project will rely on the UK’s ability to train the next generation of engineers in rail, construction and environmental studies. That is why the Government is now looking for a location for a new HS2 college, which will be the first further education college to be built by Government in over 20 years, and complements our existing plans for a rail engineering training academy. Developing the rail engineering sector is a priority for the Sheffield City Region, and the new college would be a catalyst for growth in this area.
By locating the college in Doncaster, the Government will maximise the transformational benefits in an area that needs it – this is their opportunity to really start spreading the benefits of HS2.
Doncaster is not only most logical place in the Sheffield City Region to locate the High Speed Rail College, it is the best place in the country. The LEP believes that the collective confidence shown by local leaders from across the private and public sectors to bring the main hub to Doncaster will help Government to make the right choice.
Following the bid’s submission, Doncaster’s business community has launched a campaign to support bringing the new HS2 college to Doncaster. To be a success, their campaign needs support from local residents and businesses to show Government that everyone in the Sheffield City Region wants to see the college in Doncaster. Show your support by going online today and backing the bid at www.businessdoncaster.com/bid-for-hs2-rail-college
This article was originally written for the Yorkshire Post and appeared in print in the Business section on Tuesday 13 May 2014.