The Prime Minister has just announced that the controversial HS2 project will go ahead, alongside a series of ‘radical’ local transport improvements.
The confirmation of HS2’s continued existence will no doubt be a relief to many looking to reduce the journey time from Birmingham to London, but perhaps the biggest beneficiary of today’s decision is the local steel manufacturers who could be supplying the network.
One of the biggest stories regarding steel manufacturing occurred late last year when it was announced that Chinese firm Jingye, was set to buy British Steel in a £70m deal.
While the details of the takeover are from decided, today’s announcement from the Government could, in the words of logistics expert Dr Jonathan Owens (pictured right), “secure the future of British Steel.”
To learn more about what today’s decision could mean for British Steel in Scunthorpe, Commercial People reached out to Dr Owens, who revealed: “HS2 needs about 170 tonnes of long product rail and switch, which can be made in British Steel Scunthorpe. Therefore, it would make sense for this to be the plant to be the main supplier for the project. Buying raw material from overseas is a waste of time, money and effort, as well as increasing the supply chain cost by up to 30%.”
Elaborating on the status of the Jingye deal which has been seemingly sidelined following the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, Dr Owens adds: “Currently Jingye is stalling on the deal the negotiated in November last year. However, now that HS2 is confirmed perhaps the deal looks more appealing. HS2 is a huge investment for the UK and keeping the investment within the UK’s supply chain as much as possible is important.”
In addition to the first phase of the HS2 which will connect London to Birmingham, there are still plans to deliver the remaining Manchester and Leeds connections.
Dubbed ‘High-Speed North’, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps remarked that this section of the HS2 is also a ‘vital’ piece of infrastructure; however, no concrete completion date has been set for this at present.
Despite the uncertainty around the date, Dr Owens remarks that the delay for High-Speed North should be an “opportunity to improve and develop and [the local] current infrastructure” – this feeling was echoed by the PM, who outlined his vision for a multi-billion-pound transport ‘revolution’.
Praising the Governments decision to go ahead with HS2 as well as developing the local transport links, travel and tourism expert, Dr Neil Robinson said: “The Government’s support for improved rail infrastructure in England is surely a good thing, yes it’s a lot of cash, but it’s often the case that developments like this are colossal in terms of funding requirements.
“Many critics have argued that the costs could be better spent on other development and improvements throughout the UK, the only problem here is that spending needs to be planned for, you can’t just say we are going to spend x amount of cash tomorrow on the following ideas, they need a blueprint and a fully costed plan, HS2 has the plans in place, and the diggers are at the ready.
“So, what will the future look like, well one would hope that MCR to London times are much quicker, access from London to Birmingham and wider North West of England is improved, and extra capacity is made available on the train, not to mention the economic injection to the regional and national economy.”
Featured Image: Artists Impression of Birmingham Curzon Street’s HS2 terminal