Express & Star comment: HS2 investment fast-tracked at long last
The images of the two new West Midlands train stations that will serve HS2 really are a sight to behold.
The striking designs for the stations at Curzon Street, in Birmingham city centre, and Solihull, provide the level of high-quality architecture you would expect from a project that is costing tens of millions of pounds.
It also brings home the fact that high speed rail is very real, and is coming our way at a rapid pace.
Curzon Street, which will serve as a hub linking phase one of the high-speed link from London to Birmingham with phase two towards the north west, is a site that has been in desperate need of redevelopment for years.
It is quite fitting that one of the oldest railway terminus’s in the world is to form part of a scheme that will revolutionise rail travel.
Once complete, it will also feature a visitor centre and office space among other things, making it not just a travel hub, but an extremely impressive public space.
How HS2 benefits areas such as the Black Country remains to be seen, however.
The new city centre station will be directly accessible via tram as part of the region’s new integrated transport system, although those who wish to get there from New Street station will have a short walk.
For people in Staffordshire, environmental concerns around the line’s route through the green belt are still proving to be highly controversial.
Whatever the pros and cons of HS2, it appears to be here to stay. Ministers have said the chances of it being cancelled at this late stage are slim to none.
In some respects, we should be grateful of the investment that is coming into the region.
For too long the West Midlands was simply ignored by central government, but in recent years there is a feeling that the region is becoming ‘the place to be’.
This is due in no small part to the work of Mayor Andy Street and the council leaders on the combined authority, who have worked tirelessly to get the investment required across the region.
The West Midlands is not just a staging post between London and the Northern Powerhouse, it must be the beating heart of the HS2 revolution.