‘Economy-boosting potential’ of HS2

An image showing part of the proposed HS2 route
An image showing part of the proposed HS2 route
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WIGAN’S economy could be on track for a massive boost from the HS2 high-speed rail scheme, according to a senior council officer.

Town hall assistant director for economy and skills Emma Barton believes the project to run a 200mph super-fast line between London and northern cities will deliver huge benefits to the borough’s firms and workers.

It’s a fantastic opportunity if we can take advantage of it

Emma Barton

Wigan Council is already helping firms in industries such as construction, admin and legal services get ready to bid on contracts for phase one of the project running from the capital to Birmingham.

The start of the bidding process was recently announced by chancellor George Osborne during a trip to China but Ms Barton says the timing of the announcement does not mean only huge multi-national corporations will be in with a chance of working on HS2.

She says scores of jobs could also flow into the borough’s economy and the high-speed rail project could help a generation of young Wiganers get on the career ladder through training programmes.

She said: “We are making sure we are spreading the word about HS2 to our business community because of the construction opportunities, apprenticeship opportunities and the chances to support our local economy.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity if we can take advantage of it.

“We’ve been liaising with our High Speed colleagues for some time and our business community has been eagerly awaiting this announcement.

“We are confident firms will be able to partner with prime contractors, who may well be national, and complement them.

“The biggest area is in construction.

“We are hopeful there’s a lot of engineering apprenticeship opportunities coming on board as well as areas such as finance, project management, customer care and community engagement.

“There are a number of types of jobs linked to this supporting the procurement process, with the secondary spending which goes along with that, and we are very hopeful that our businesses will capitalise on the opportunities available from this massively important national project.

“Further down the line, once construction is complete we will be lobbying for further jobs in maintenance, legal and professional services and in the day-to-day running of the railway line.”

However, the council also confirmed it will be at least 12 months before any contracts are handed out.