The team of 16 travelled from Prague to the UK and were keen to see HS2’s progress in Birmingham, where the development of Britain’s new high speed railway is already having economic impacts.
During their two-day visit the delegation was especially interested to see how HS2 has been planned in co-operation with regional transport bodies and city authorities to boost economic growth, city development and regeneration on the back of high speed rail investment.
HS2 will transform rail journeys and give passengers thousands of extra seats every day, serving three Midlands stations. The capacity that HS2 provides makes future infrastructure projects like the Midlands Rail Hub and Northern Powerhouse Rail possible.
Local economic plans show the creation of more than 100,000 jobs in the region and add £18billion a year to the Midlands economy as a result of the improved connectivity from these services.
To see the project's progress, the group called at the site of Birmingham's future HS2 station at Curzon Street to see how the UK’s investment in high speed rail is putting the city at the heart of the new national network.
HS2 Ltd’s Strategic Adviser, Prof Andrew McNaughton, said:
“The Czech Republic is looking to make a long-term strategic national investment in high speed rail that’s driven both by the need to improve transport links and to fire its economy by transforming the opportunities for people to choose where to live and work.
“HS2 puts Birmingham at the heart of the network, with reliable and frequent services operating from Curzon Street. The journey time from Leeds will be halved, London will be as little as three quarters of an hour away, and journeys to Manchester will take just 40 minutes. It will be transformational for Birmingham and the whole country, so it was a pleasure to present our progress to our visitors from the Czech Republic.”
The team also visited the project’s London base where they heard how powers are being sought from Parliament to build the next phase of the network to Crewe. They also learnt about the potential for commercial development around stations, how HS2 is being designed around the passenger experience, and the opportunity it offers to create a green corridor of connected wildlife habitats right along the route.
Czech Infrastructure Association President, Tomas Janeba, said:
“High speed rail can be a game-changer for a country’s development. We were inspired to learn in such detail about the well-thought-out plans for HS2 and to understand how its lessons might be applied in the Czech Republic.”
HS2 will connect eight of 10 of the biggest cities in the country from Scotland to south east England, join up nearly half of the UK population, and deliver £92bn of benefits to the UK economy. Work is well underway across Phase One of the railway between London and the West Midlands, with over 250 work locations, supporting 9,000 jobs and opportunities for 2,000 businesses.
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