NEC gets behind government high-speed rail plans

The NEC Group has joined
key players from the West Midlands private and
public sectors in a consortium, Go-HS2, in support of the high-speed rail
link.

Trains travelling at 225mph connecting
London to Birmingham and beyond came a step nearer when
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond this week published plans for the new £34bn
link.

CEO, The NEC Group, Paul Thandi, said: “The
NEC Group is increasingly global in both its offer and reach. The prospect of
high speed rail connecting us to London in under 40 minutes presents huge growth
opportunities for our business, helping to attract events with truly national
and international appeal, while boosting business
tourism.

“The NEC site alone, which is also home to
the LG Arena as well as the exhibition centre, attracts more than three million
visitors each year, 70 per cent of which are from outside the West Midlands, and
10 per cent outside the UK. We create 25,000 jobs and
generate £1.8bn economic impact – so with time being one of the most precious
commodities, if it’s easier and faster to get to us, then this is a great
advantage – attracting even more visitors from a broader market that, in turn,
will greatly benefit the wider regional economy.” 

Chief Executive of the
transport authority Centro, Geoff Inskip, said: “Go-HS2 galvanises support for
the project within the business and public sector and enables us to speak with
one voice on what we believe is the biggest opportunity for wealth and job
creation in a generation.

“HS2 can bring 22,000 new
jobs to the West Midlands and boost its economy
by £1.5 billion a year and it’s this potential for regeneration combined with
its ability to meet future rail demand that makes the case.”

Neil Rami, head of
Business Birmingham,
the city’s inward investment programme, said regional economies must be given
the tools to make themselves attractive investment propositions. “We must ensure
that it is not just the South East that can compete in the global market place. UK Plc deserves better,” he said.

Ministers say building the HS2 will help
rejuvenate the economy, breach regional inequality and coax millions of
travellers out of their cars and planes and onto the
train.

“It is about closing the North-South gap and
stimulating economic growth, a 21st century infrastructure for a
21st century country,” said Hammond.

The minister described the 70 protest groups
opposing the proposal as “Mainly Nimbys (‘Not in My Back Yard’) most living in the
Chilterns. The government insists the railway will deliver economic benefits
worth £44bn and create tens of thousands of
jobs.

A recent opinion poll showed those in favour
of high-speed rail outnumber opponents by five to
one.

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Email: pcolston@mashmedia.net

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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