HS2 Ltd’s CEO Mark Thurston recently hosted Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street at HS2’s Interchange Station construction site in Solihull.

The Chancellor’s visit follows last week’s Autumn Statement in which he committed to investment in infrastructure and to continue building HS2 to Manchester.

Mark Thurston hosted the Chancellor and Mayor Andy Street on a tour of the site to see construction progress, meet site engineers and apprentices, and hear about how HS2 is already driving economic benefits across the Midlands and wider to the whole UK, creating opportunities for jobs and businesses across the country.

HS2 Ltd’s CEO Mark Thurston said:

“It was a pleasure to host the Chancellor and the West Midlands Mayor on our busy Interchange Station site today, so they could see first-hand HS2’s construction progress in action, and to show them how HS2 is delivering for the government’s levelling-up agenda. With almost 30,000 jobs supported by the project, and tens of thousands more throughout our UK-wide supply chain, we are delighted the Chancellor recognises the important part HS2 is playing in driving growth across the country today, and will do in the future.”

On Twitter, after the visit Jeremy Hunt MP tweeted:

Today I met skilled apprentices on the site of HS2’s new Interchange Station in #Solihull with the brilliant @andy4wm. We could have balanced the books with big cuts to capital projects, but better transport connections spread wealth & opportunity – so we are proud to BACK HS2.

The Chancellor and Mayor met apprentices from HS2’s civils construction partner Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) to hear about the opportunities the project is providing for them and their future careers.

Bethany Williamson, Balfour Beatty VINCI Apprentice Civil Engineer from Birmingham said:

“It was great to talk to the Chancellor, who was really interested in hearing about my apprenticeship and my role working on HS2. I told him that it really is a brilliant opportunity to work on such a huge construction project, and that I’m very excited about continuing my career with HS2.”

The contract to build HS2’s eco-friendly Interchange Station in the West Midlands will support around 1,000 jobs over the next five years. This means there will are huge opportunities for people and businesses in the region right now, years before the station is open.

Interchange Station is the catalyst for huge growth plans in Solihull, creating an economic transformation for the region. The plans, being led by the Urban Growth Company, will support 30,000 jobs, up to 3,000 new homes and 70,000m2 of commercial space.

This forms part of the wider UK Central Hub area plans for 70,000 jobs, 8,000 new homes and 650,000m2 of commercial space, generating £6.2bn GVA per year and bringing 1.3m people to within a 45-minute public transport commute of the station.

The design of Interchange will make it one of the most sustainable stations anywhere in the world. Harnessing the latest green technology and designs will provide exciting jobs, training and supply chain opportunities, as we begin to build a world-class transport hub for the UK.

The station site covers an area of 150 hectares within a triangle of land formed by the M42, A45 and A452. Significant progress has already been made on the site, including the construction of modular bridges over the M42 and A446 as part of a re-modelled road network in the area to facilitate access to the new station.

In 2023, after an initial 12 month planning stage, Laing O’Rourke will start the detailed design. HS2’s Main Works Contractor Balfour Beatty VINCI are currently preparing the site, ready for construction to start in 2024. The station is due for completion in 2027 in advance of the railway opening between 2029 and 2033.

There will be up to five trains per hour passing through the station in both directions, with an estimated total of 175,000 seats per day, making this one of the best-connected transport interchanges in the country.