Originally scheduled to partially open in 2026, the HS2 high-speed railway linking London and the North of England has faced numerous criticisms since the ambitious project was announced almost 10 years ago.

Over the weekend it was reported that the project, originally expected to cost £33 billion, will now overrun its estimate and won’t debut before 2028 – or potentially as late as 2031.

Managing director of Transport for the West Midlands, Laura Shoaf, stated that radial solutions to infrastructure would be needed to support the capacity of existing rail lines if the project was set to be scrapped – plans that would need to be drawn up from scratch and could take years to produce.

This is unwelcome news for the local business community, as the high-speed rail network will eventually mean lesser journey times between key parts of the country and the Midlands.

Further delays to the project may have lasting effects on how businesses build future working relationships across the country and encourage skilled workers to take up employment in the area.

Current improvements to the existing networks within the two counties are also in the process of being approved. Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce recently supported the Midlands Rail Hub plans, which outlined new and improved infrastructure to be completed between 2024-2033.

The plans consisted of 24 additional train services per hour, including an extra train every 60-minutes between Hereford, Worcester and Birmingham. This improvement within our rail network will likely have a positive effect on road congestion and will take steps towards reducing our reliance on less sustainable transport.

The extra trains will also reduce current journey times and help to supercharge the economy by bringing the East and West Midlands closer together.

For further information on the Midlands Rail Hub, please visit midlandsconnect.uk/key-projects/midlands-rail-hub. Alternatively, to have your say on the latest rail announcements, please contact our Policy department on policy@hwchamber.co.uk.