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Midlands Seeks Friends In The North To Save HS2

Maria Machancoses, director at Midlands Connect

Joint lobbying by Midlands and Northern politicians and transport bosses is essential to help keep HS2 on track.

Midlands Connect Director Maria Machancoses revealed that she is co-hosting an event at Westminster in January to bring together Northern and Midlands MPs and regional transport leaders.

Speaking at Bisnow's Birmingham State of Offices event hosted by BE Offices at Temple Street, Birmingham, Machancoses said that the North and Midlands needed to work tgoether "big time" to prevent the HS2 project from sliding.

Her remarks came as Sir Terry Morgan submitted his resignation as chairman of the HS2 board, and as doubts about the budgetary and technical aspects of the £56B rail project grow, particularly the northern spurs from Crewe to Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.

“HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionise our transport network and rebalance the U.K. economy," Machancoses said. Birmingham and the West Midlands have already enjoyed significant benefits from HS2: accelerated economic development, more people and businesses locating here and a swathe of other inward investment.

“HS2 is a very long-term project, so it will inevitably change in leadership and personnel over the next 15 years. The most important thing is that we complete HS2 on time and in its entirety, spreading its benefits across the Midlands and the North. We mustn’t allow short-term changes to distract from the long-term goals of improving capacity, connectivity and the customer experience on our railways, as well as fostering skills and economic growth."

Pressed by questioners at the event Machancoses said: "HS2 has to happen. HS2 is massively important for Birmingham, but it is equally important to connect to the North. We are holding a reception in January and working closely with the East Midlands, we cannot let short-term political debate kill a fantastic programme."

"I'm working with Transport for the North and political leaders and MPs in the North to show this is about rebalancing our economy."

The disclosures came after a presentation on the Midlands Rail Hub proposals, intended to ease congestion and open more rail pathways allowing an additional 1.6 million commuters to be within one hour's commute of Birmingham and Nottingham.

"Midlands Hub will spread the benefits of HS2," Machancoses told the audience. She called on the property industry to support the project and press government for funding.