HS2 Birmingham Interchange station will create 1,000 jobs, mayor says
Image credit: PA Media
Situated on the east side of the M42, the new £370m HS2 station will bring around 1,000 jobs to the West Midlands, the region’s mayor has said.
After years of planning, disagreement and reviews, construction work preparing the land for the Birmingham Interchange High Speed 2 (HS2) station has already begun.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has described the station as “transformational for the Midlands economy”, adding that “opportunities for people and businesses in the region are being created right now, years before the station is open”.
The station will be situated across the motorway from the NEC exhibition halls, providing direct transport links to the existing Birmingham International station and airport. The hub is expected to open in 2026.
HS2 will connect London to Manchester and Leeds via Birmingham, with a Y-shaped network. Trains will theoretically be able to travel at up to 220mph on the tracks.
Despite it running tens of billions of pounds over its initial budget, and already several years behind schedule, prime minister Boris Johnson gave HS2 the green light to go ahead in February 2020, with the government claiming that the railway line would be “still going strong” in 150 years.
“HS2 is at the heart of our plans to build back better – and with construction now formally underway, it’s set to create around 22,000 new jobs," he said in a statement at the time. "As the spine of our country’s transport network, the project will be vital in boosting connectivity between our towns and cities.”
Work on the development of the railway started with the London-Birmingham segment, leading to the unveiling of the station's design.
The Birmingham Interchange station has been designed to use natural ventilation, daylight, solar power and rainwater harvested from its roof, winning an award for its green credentials.
“Given the climate emergency the West Midlands is facing, it is also great to see how eco-friendly these plans are,” Street said. The West Midlands mayor has previously stated that HS2 has a “critical role to play in the West Midlands’ economic recovery by driving investment and helping to provide tens of thousands of jobs”.
According to Street, there will be 22 apprenticeships on offer as part of the project, while businesses can bid for supply chain contracts in construction-related services, as well as catering, specialist equipment supply and manufactured components.
However, the project attracted criticised for its spiralling costs, after it emerged last year that the contract for building Birmingham station is worth up to £370m. This is some £100m more than an estimate in March 2020, which excluded money for contingency and options to maximise the site.
Speaking on the BBC, Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said that HS2 will displace jobs as well as create them, adding: “Trying to spin HS2 as a job-creation scheme is beyond desperate. Creating 22,000 jobs works out at almost £2m just to create a single job.”
HS2 has also been criticised for its potential environmental impact, after a 2020 report found that the construction of HS2 would destroy and divide hundreds of wildlife sites and nature reserves, including 108 irreplaceable ancient woodlands.
“When it comes to the nature emergency, so far HS2 has only made things worse,” said Kathryn Brown, director of climate action for The Wildlife Trusts.
To address this criticism, earlier this year HS2 Ltd announced that the railway network’s new trains will all be powered exclusively by zero-carbon energy when they start operating. This commitment is part of broader aims to make the project net-zero carbon from 2035, with targets of diesel-free construction sites and major reductions in carbon emissions from the steel and concrete used to build the railway.
The first diesel-free construction sites are expected sometime this year, while carbon emissions from the steel and concrete used in the project will be reduced by 50 per cent by 2030 compared with 2021 levels.
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