Regional leaders, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, have been given the green light by Transport Secretary Mark Harper to develop new rail link projects between Birmingham and Manchester. This initiative emerges as a proactive response to the recent cancellation of the HS2 rail link’s northern section.

The endorsement to proceed reflects a significant stride towards addressing the connectivity vacuum resulting from the HS2 project’s curtailment. Plans are underway to either enhance the existing West Coast Main Line significantly or establish a new line supported by private investment for high-speed trains.

As they gear up to navigate this ambitious project, Mayor Andy Street and Mayor Andy Burnham, who have regularly attended the UK Real Estate Infrastructure and Investment Forum (UKREiiF) since its inception, are well-known for their commitment to spearheading transformative infrastructure projects in their respective regions.

Mayor Andy Burnham has emphasised the urgency of developing alternative rail services, highlighting the insufficiency of current infrastructure, including the M6 and the West Coast Main Line, to meet the expected growth demands in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.

Drawing inspiration from the success of France’s TGV high-speed rail line, which utilised private financing for its expansion, the team is determined to explore innovative financing and development models. Expertise from renowned firms like Arup, Arcadis, Mace, and EY is being harnessed to ensure the viability and success of the proposed rail developments.

While the cancellation of HS2’s northern leg has redirected funds to other critical transport initiatives such as the Midlands Rail Hub, the collective resolve of Mayors Street and Burnham, along with their participation in the upcoming UKREiiF, illustrates a clear vision and a strong commitment to enhancing regional connectivity and fostering sustainable economic growth.