Birmingham professor on board to deliver HS2 Strategy

New arrival to head team charged with maximising rail business benefits.

Professor Clive Roberts from the University of Birmingham has joined the HS2 programme team to lead its Digital Connectivity workstream, as it looks to maximise the benefits from the arrival of the high-speed rail programme to the West Midlands.

Responsible for delivering the West Midlands Combined Authority HS2 Growth Strategy, the programme team aims to capitalise on the huge investment being made in the region by establishing the West Midlands as a world leader in train technology.

Professor Clive Roberts, BEng, PhD, FIRSE, was identified as the ideal candidate based on his vast experience gained as Professor of Railway Systems at the University of Birmingham, the Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education and Lead for the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network.

Over the last twenty years he has developed a broad portfolio of research aimed at improving the performance of railway systems, working extensively with the railway industry in Britain and overseas.

As the chair of the Digital Connectivity workstream for the WMCA’s HS2 programme team, Clive will be responsible for setting a strategy for the Combined Authority; initiating and helping with activities that will help deliver the strategy; and monitoring achievements.

Commenting on his appointment, Clive said: “HS2 is the largest infrastructure project in Europe, delivering a strategically important investment in a much-needed improvement into the country’s infrastructure. It is an honour and privilege to be involved in a project that will revolutionise rail travel in the UK.

“The technological requirements of High Speed Rail mean that to deliver the project there is a need for innovation and invention, as we build new processes and equipment to take the railway industry into the future. I am looking forward to bringing my experience and expertise to the project and working with the HS2 programme team.”

Craig Wakeman, HS2 Programme Manager, added: “The West Midlands has a unique opportunity to establish itself as the world leader in rail technology, and having an industry leader in this field as part of our team allows to establish a strong platform for future success.

“The Digital Connectivity workstream is another strand of the HS2 project that is transforming the economy in the region. It will provide a multitude of future employment opportunities in the rail and technology sectors, and we are working closely with education providers to ensure the West Midlands is producing the required talent to make this a success.

“Rail technology is just one of the many industry sectors that are already providing a wealth of opportunities for local businesses, as more and more contracts become available to create the vast supply chain required to deliver the programme, which will see the first trains enter service in 2026.”

HS2 is set to create a host of benefits for the West Midlands. In addition to improved train times to London and the North, the region will gain from an overhaul of transport, regeneration, job creation and business opportunities that will make an immediate and long-lasting impact across the West Midlands Combined Authority.