SME suppliers urge Government to commit fully to HS2 Eastern Leg

 

4 May 2021

  • Industry survey shows overwhelming support for completing HS2 in full;
  • 80% of rail SMEs anticipate significant falls in revenue and almost half would cut staff, if full scheme is not delivered.

A recent survey of SME suppliers in the rail, construction, and engineering sectors has found overwhelming support for HS2’s Eastern Leg, with those currently working on HS2 contracts predicting severe impacts on their businesses should it be curtailed.

The survey, co-ordinated by the High Speed Rail Group (HSRG) and the Railway Industry Association (RIA), found that of those SMEs already working on HS2, 80.5% anticipated a drop in revenue should the West Midlands to Leeds leg not go ahead, with nearly half (46.3%) responding that they would need to downsize staff levels. Almost a fifth (19.5%) said that they would even consider moving into other markets. Other SMEs not currently in the HS2 supply chain responded by a margin of two to one that they hoped to win a contract on the Eastern Leg itself.

Besides expressing overwhelming support for the whole HS2 route, the survey revealed that HS2 has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on SMEs, with 61.5% having taken on more staff and 69.2% investing more in the skills of their workforce as a direct result of working on the project. Over eight in ten suppliers also reported that they expected to see their company grow as a consequence of working on HS2, and nearly two thirds had seen an increase in turnover.

Nearly all SMEs surveyed (96.1%) said that HS2 will be very or somewhat important for the future of their company, and of those companies not yet working on HS2, over nine in ten said that winning a contract would be very or somewhat important to them.

Susan Ryall, Director at High Speed Rail Group commented: “This industry survey shows how vital the whole of HS2 is to small and medium sized businesses - including the Eastern Leg. SMEs are the lifeblood of our industry, and they are sounding the alarm on what curtailing the project means for them.

“With 80% of SMEs expecting revenue to fall and half likely to lay off staff, the Government needs to seriously consider the full consequences for businesses and workers of cutting HS2.”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “HS2 is essential to UK businesses of all sizes right across the country, supporting jobs, investment and economic growth at a pivotal time for the economy.

“Delivering the full route, including the Eastern Leg, will be vital. As the results of this survey shows, any reduction to the full HS2 scheme would deliver a blow not just to future connectivity, but also to the many small and medium sized businesses that are working to support the UK, as the Government seeks to ‘build back better’ post-Coronavirus.”

Read the findings

Notes to Editors

 

  1. About High Speed Rail Group (HSRG): Representing companies with experience and an interest in high speed rail, High Speed Rail Group is committed to supporting the successful delivery of a world-class high speed rail network in Britain. Our members have helped deliver major infrastructure projects in the UK and around the world, ranging from creating entirely new high speed networks through to maintaining and improving the UK’s existing rail network. This gives us a unique insight into both the shortcomings in the current network, and the transformative capacity and connectivity benefits that high speed rail can bring. Our unique set of expertise in engineering, operations, funding and regulation gives us the experience to ensure the extension of the high speed rail network leaves a lasting legacy for the UK. The company’s principal objective is: “to support, promote and champion the development of high speed rail in Great Britain”. For more information about HSRG, please visit http://www.rail-leaders.com/

  2.  About RIA:The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has 300+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry. www.riagb.org.uk 

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