How HS2 will stimulate private sector investment and regeneration High Speed Rail Industry Leaders' 3rd annual conference: 12 June 2018

High Speed Rail Industry Leaders’ (HSRIL) 3rd annual conference assembled 200 representatives at the Leeds College of Music from across industry, local and national government, local economic partnerships and devolved transport organisations. It highlighted the ambitious plans that the city of Leeds has, including the station doubling in size and a commercial expansion programme at the heart of city. The conference focused on HS2’s economic potential including leveraging in business investment, securing housing and commercial developments, delivering complementary transport programmes, harnessing the skills and jobs uplift, and potential to sell the UK’s expertise globally. The conference was chaired by Daisy McAndrew, former Economics Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for ITV News.

Nusrat Ghani MP, HS2 Minister

Key Note Address

In her key note address, which was delivered by video, the Minister described the opportunities that HS2 offers to the private sector, to investors and to the supply chain as truly national in scope, stating that:

  • HS2 is the biggest rail investment ever in the North and that the project will dwarf any transport scheme in Britain since the coming of the motorways
  • HS2 is much more than a new rail line - it is a vast project that will change our country and change our economic geography
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships and Growth Hubs are being set up to regenerate and attract new investment to areas along the HS2 route which will, in turn, bring benefits to wider regions in the North and across the Midlands
  • 60% of HS2 contracts will be awarded to SMEs across the UK, ensuring that the economic benefits will be felt across the whole supply chain
Nick Bisson, Director, HS2 Phase 2 and North, DfT

Following the Minister's video, Nick Bisson joined Daisy McAndrew for a Q&A session. He stated that realising the ambitions for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) means using HS2, with the debate not about one or the other but how both can be designed together to be genuinely transformative for both programmes.

Nisrine Chartouny

Director, HSRIL and Civil Engineer, Bechtel

Introducing HSRIL and highlighting the aim of the conference was to have a meaningful discussion around how we unlock investment and growth across the country, Nisrine noted:

  • HS2 will ignite regional economies all across the UK and there is an open door for investment in towns and cities, spurred by HS2
  • Constructing the railway line is one part, but so are the plans needed to secure investment that HS2 stimulates
  • Places around the world with high speed rail have shown how this can be done. We need to do the same and harness our global window into the world

Lord Andrew Adonis

Labour peer, former transport secretary and former chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission

Joining Daisy McAndrew on stage for an interview, Lord Adonis, one of the original architects of the HS2 project, commented:

  • "I have three children. A son, a daughter & HS2"
  • He confirmed his "baby" was on track and called on the scheme to address past poor transport planning and critically said it should not be seen just as a railway but a big social and economic programme

Making the most of high speed rail: how high speed rail can transform cities and catalyse regeneration?

Panel discussion with:

  • Dyan Crowther, Chief Executive, High Speed 1 talked about the significant economic benefits that HS1 bought to Kent, including £3.8 billion worth of regeneration along the line of route. As a result, more businesses have invested in the region and it has become a tourist destination in its own right, further driving economic growth. She pointed out that this will also happen along the HS2 route, which is three times as long as HS1, delivering economic regeneration right across the country
  • Will McWilliams, Partner, Grant Thornton spoke about how HS2 will help create social inclusion in the region by rebalancing the economy. He also stated that the public and private sector needed to work together to ensure that we made the most of the opportunities that HS2 brings
  • Prof Peter Woodward, Chair in High Speed Rail Engineering, Leeds University highlighted the importance of developing a UK brand for high speed rail that we can then export as a product, selling our expertise around the world. He also spoke about Leeds becoming a centre for excellence for high speed rail development through the building of a high speed rail centre in the region
  • David Brewer, Director, HSRIL and Group Strategy Director, Murphy stated that it was crucial to begin investing in and making improvements to the rest of the transport network now to make sure it is ready to integrate with HS2

Mark Thurston

Chief Executive, HS2 Ltd

Mark Thurston provided a project update and said that he wanted HS2 to be a railway that could be used by everyone, commenting:

  • HS2 is more than just a railway, it has the power to be a vehicle for social mobility - shrinking the distance between cities across the UK, bringing opportunities closer to people, and leaving a lasting legacy of jobs and skills here in the UK
  • As the project continues at pace - with Phase One in construction, the Phase 2a Bill in Committee and the latest round of engagement events for Phase 2b underway - around the country businesses are already benefiting from HS2 with £10 billion worth of contracts already let, building on HS2 Ltd's commitment for 600 in every 1000 going to SMEs

Pecha Kucha Session

Young Rail Professionals and Colas Rail Early Careers Mentors

Clair Mowbray, Chief Executive at the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) took to the stage to introduce the Pecha Kucha session, a Japanese style of presentation in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each. Clair explained the role the NCHSR played in training up the next generation of highly skilled engineers and in aiding the delivery of HS2. She also spoke about the importance of encouraging more young people into engineering, a view echoed by Stephen Metcalfe MP, Government Envoy for the Year of Engineering, who sent a short video message of support for the conference.

Following Clair's welcome, Julianna Moats and Liam Henderson from the Young Rail Professionals and Cate Lough and Munaf Ally, Early Careers Mentors at Colas Rail each presented their ideas on how to encourage more young talent to get involved in the rail industry.

Clair Mowbray, Chief Executive, National College for High Speed Rail
  • Julianna Moats, Young Rail Professional spoke about the importance of engaging a younger audience in the decision making process for big infrastructure projects as they will be the ones to use them in the future. She also noted that younger generations have a better skill-set to support the sector's transition to a digital railway and that the industry should be doing all it can to attract young talent so we can revolutionise transport planning on a local and national level
  • Cate Lough, Colas Rail stated that Britain needed to adopt a different approach to education to allow students to better develop creative thinking, innovation, team-work and practical skills. She also said that the rail industry needed to make itself a more attractive place for young people to begin their careers so that we can compete for talent with other industries
  • Liam Henderson, Young Rail Professional talked about the importance of using blockchain technology as part of the future of the railway to help improve levels of service and cut costs, as well as attracting young people with the right expertise in this area to join the industry
  • Munaf Ally, Colas Rail spoke about the importance of integrating young people joining the work force with the older generation who have worked in the industry for years through team work, collaboration and knowledge sharing to create a healthy work culture where people want to stay for a long time. He also spoke about making sure there was better visibility on the different pathways into the rail industry and the variety of roles available throughout

How HS2 will align with Northern Powerhouse Rail

Panel discussion with:

  • Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director, Transport for the North discussed the importance of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail to address the poor transport across the north, saying that for the first time, there will be comprehensive new train plan for the north, covering an area in population terms that would be the 9th largest country in Europe
  • Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford City Council, who leads the youngest city in the country, spoke about the profound lack of rail connection that people in Bradford had experienced all their lives and commented that the economic investment from HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will produce a step change for generations to come
  • Paul Griffiths, Phase 2b Director, HS2 Ltd talked about the teamwork taking place to ensure Northern Powerhouse Rail is a success, stating that the HS2 would play a huge role in getting the most out of the network. He said we need help from across the industry to help shape what Northern Powerhouse Rail looks like to make sure it is truly transformational and that government, business and local authorities must unite and act now - not wait until the line is complete
  • Angela Barnicle, Head of Asset Management, Leeds City Council spoke about the importance of making preparations for HS2 now and the regeneration taking place in Leeds city centre in advance of HS2. She spoke improved connectivity being transformational in terms of access to wider markets and talent pools
  • John Downer, Director, HSRIL and Key Account Manager for HS2 discussed harnessing HS2's infrastructure for Northern Powerhouse Rail to make better use of funds. He also talked about the importance of the North having a cohesive and united lobby to make the case for Northern Powerhouse Rail

Summary from Will Roberts

Director, HSRIL and Communications Director UK & Ireland, Alstom

Summarising the main contributions from the conference, Will Roberts covered the four main opportunities presented by HS2, including;

  • Businesses right across the supply chain will benefit from HS2, with 60% of contracts going to SMEs
  • Communities across the wider Northern region will be better connected to cities along the line of route, giving people more flexibility to choose where they live and work
  • Places across the UK will change as cities and towns gain vastly improved transport connections - a critical driver of economic growth - and become much more attractive places for business investment; such as Leeds city centre which will double in size
  • Young people who may not have previously considered a career in rail have the opportunity to join an exciting industry that offers fantastic propects. Will spoke about how HSRIL has demonstrated its commitment to championing the development of training, skills and career opportunities in the rail sector by providing bursaries for three ‘Rail Leader Learners’ to attend the NCHSR

Will finished by stating that HS2 is not just a railway. Iit supports economic and community development throughout the UK and that it was the industry's responsibility to spread the message that "HS2 is the beginning, not the end."

Who are the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders?

HSRIL is a coalition of industry experts committed to supporting the successful delivery of a world-class high speed rail network in Britain. Our members have helped deliver major infrastructure projects in the UK and around the world, ranging from creating entirely new high speed networks through to maintaining and improving the UK’s existing rail network. This gives us a unique insight into both the shortcomings in the current network, and the transformative capacity and connectivity benefits that high speed rail can bring. The group’s unique set of expertise in engineering, operations, funding and regulation gives them the experience to ensure the extension of the high speed rail network leaves a lasting legacy for the UK.

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