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The European Commission has appointed Steer Davies Gleave to evaluate its Common Transport Policy from 2000 to 2008. The study will contribute to the preparation of a Communication on the future of transport in Europe which the Commission plans to adopt in June 2009.
A recently completed study, undertaken by Steer Davies Gleave on behalf of Birmingham City Council and Greengauge 21, shows that High Speed Rail has the potential to deliver significant benefits to the national economy, and to contribute to the regeneration of Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Following the success of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, further impetus has been given to the debate for a High Speed rail network in the United Kingdom. A High Speed corridor has been identified by Greengauge 21 between London and Birmingham/Manchester, including a spur to Heathrow.
High speed rail would represent a very significant transport investment with the potential to revolutionise travel between the West Midlands (and beyond), London and abroad. The journey time between London and Birmingham and Birmingham International could be reduced from the current 1 hour 20 minutes to around 45 minutes, with services also operating at a high frequency.
This scale of this improvement in connectivity would result in significant productivity gains to the national and regional economy, with overall GDP gains of over £5bn (2002 prices) forecast over a 60 year period, calculated in line with the Government`s `Wider Economic Benefits` (WEBs) Guidance.
A significant proportion of these benefits would accrue to Birmingham and the West Midlands, and in particular would support the expansion of the high value financial and business service sectors, with related spin off benefits to the property and retail sectors.
SDG project director Leo Eyles said: 'This study has demonstrated the potential for High Speed Rail to deliver significant economic benefits to the West Midlands and the UK as a whole, and to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Birmingham.'
Greengauge Director Julie Mills said: 'This provides further strong evidence of the potential role high speed rail can play in supporting economic growth in the UK, and in stimulating regeneration in our major cities.'
The study findings are being reported at the Birmingham Rail Conference on Friday 13th June. A second phase of the study will focus on how High Speed Rail could integrate with, and support Birmingham`s long-term vision to deliver growth and prosperity and be a premier international business location.