Blogs - 20 November 2013

Blog: David Ralph – Connectivity is key to HS2 in the East Midlands


David Ralph, Chief Executive of D2N2, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

INSIDE Loughborough Town Hall, an HS2 Taskforce Evidence session gave key players from the East Midlands a chance to have their say. 

The main councils were represented, East Midlands Airport, Local Enterprise Partnerships including D2N2, East Midlands Councils, the Department for Transport and the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce. 

Led by HS2 Taskforce Chair Lord Deighton, it was a chance to discuss how the East Midlands can benefit from the High Speed rail service which is planned to connect London to the north, via Birmingham, the second phase passing through our region. 

The key message that emerged from all quarters – connectivity is crucial. 

But connectivity did not just mean to London, it meant to Birmingham; to the north in terms of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield – indeed the connectivity of these cities is a key driver for local growth. It also means from our area to the East Midlands HS2 hub station. If HS2 is built, it means connectivity locally, inter-regionally and nationally. 

Capacity is at the heart of why HS2 is required, the Taskforce panel outlined. To build capacity means freeing up the current network, easing the road network and enabling more freight to travel via our railways which, again, would bring positive outcomes on many other travel platforms. 

The session looked at what the East Midlands can get out of the HS2 line, with a fair chance for our companies to win contracts and for the required skills to be developed in our colleges and universities to ensure we have a local workforce able to build and capitalise on HS2 for decades to come. 

Not only will it improve capacity and connectivity, business representatives at the session pointed to the fact is it will create long-term, permanent jobs (not temporary) and it is a chance to upskill current workforces and give those coming through the education system a chance to develop new skills to forge fruitful, rewarding and well-paid careers. 

The overriding feeling was HS2 provides a massive opportunity – and also, as one council leader pointed out, a chance to inspire the next generation of engineers in a region that leads the way when it comes to planes, trains and automobiles. Miss this opportunity at your peril. 

When the HS2 Taskforce publishes its findings in the spring, it should make for some interesting reading.

David Ralph

Chief Executive


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