The inside track on the UK’s rail overhaul

Midlands on track for jobs boost and greater connectivity as countdown to HS2 begins.

The UK rail industry is getting set for a structural overhaul as it moves forward with plans to significantly improve its network. Britons will benefit from the most advanced train service in history as several projects get underway.

Developments include Thameslink, an initiative focused specifically on reducing congestion on London’s overcrowded trains. Meanwhile, Crossrail is set to improve connections from outside the capital travelling back into the city. Great Western Electrification will aim to provide a cleaner and more energy efficient service with a larger electric train offering and last but not least, HS2 – the hugely anticipated High Speed Rail project which is due to go live in 2026, creating a faster route to unite the North and South.

So closer to home, how will HS2 affect the Midlands? Well, there will be a few major benefits. Currently trains reach a maximum speed of around 155mph, but the new specially designed masterpieces will make a huge technological advancement and own the ability to travel up to a record 250mph. With that being said, HS2’s overarching aim will be for the trains to travel from London to the Midlands in as little as 48 minutes; reducing the total journey speed by 32 minutes/60%. This will form an obvious knock on effect to journey frequency and trains will be scheduled to run up to 14 times per hour in each direction. The new state of the art trains will also be 400m in length and significantly larger than those existing, meaning less chance of literally breathing down someone’s neck on a busy peak time service.

Another perhaps less immediately obvious change is the increase of job opportunities. The Department for Transport’s £43 billion investment will generate around 70,000 jobs across the UK with 40,000 of them arising in the West Midlands region alone, making a considerable contribution to the UK second city’s economic growth.

The railway tracks currently connecting the UK’s first and second cities have not been updated since the Victorian era, therefore expertise will be required over the next decade to reconstruct, operate and provide ongoing support for the new progressive high speed railway.

These roles will become available to junior, mid and senior level professionals within engineering, architecture and construction sectors. Providing opportunities to young adults or recent graduates who are keen to embark on a brand new career, through to seasoned rail veterans who are deeply enthused about offering their skill and knowledge in the ground-breaking revolutionary project they’ve been waiting their whole career for.

The development strategy for HS2 is being planned in two phases and aims to connect London Euston to the re-developed Birmingham Curzon station and then create a Y-shaped rail line that will allow trains to fork off and journey on to both Birmingham and Manchester Airports, and Leeds.

Neil Wilkie, Group Head of Marketing and IT at Fusion People commented: “It’s a really exciting time to be part of the rail industry and this brand new government funded initiative has become an interesting talking point between our consultants and West Midlands candidates. HS2 owns such longevity and huge scope for rail professionals in the region to be part of an extremely reputable rail development project which will benefit commuters around the UK enormously. Personal involvement in something as big as this genuinely is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re really looking forward to hearing more regarding its plans and progress.”