How is transport helping to revolutionise Birmingham’s economy?

26 July 2018

Thanks to its excellent transport infrastructure, Birmingham is within four hours’ journey of 90% of the UK population – and visitors can arrive by road, rail, tram and even air.

But despite this impressive foundation, Birmingham is still pursuing development, with huge changes expected in the coming years thanks to billions of pounds of inward investment[1].

What’s in store for Birmingham’s transport infrastructure?

The West Midlands Metro is undergoing an extension, with a new line to Edgbaston. According to the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, improving the connection between Birmingham and the Black Country could deliver £50 million per year to the region’s economy and create 1,500 jobs.

£300 million has been invested in Birmingham Airport over the last 10 years. The most recent addition was an extension to the runway, completed in 2014. This is forecast to create 19,000 full time equivalent jobs and deliver £824 million of annual economic output by 2030.

Birmingham’s motorway connections are set for an overhaul too. An upgrade to the M42 will improve traffic in and out of Birmingham Airport; the Tame Valley Viaduct will be improved by 2023; and parts of the M40 and M42 will be upgraded to become ‘Smart Motorway’ sections. The total cost of these projects is expected to be £500–700 million.

But by far the biggest investment in Birmingham’s transport infrastructure is the construction of the HS2 high-speed railway. When completed, Birmingham will be within one hour of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds. HS2 is expected to create over 100,000 jobs and bring £14 billion of economic input to the West Midlands.

What does this mean for industries?

These changes are expected to improve Birmingham’s economy by solving many of its long-term transport troubles. In the past, traffic moved slowly around the city, while the West Midlands’ isolation from London made it difficult for businesses there to communicate with institutions like the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange.

While investment in transport infrastructure will benefit all businesses in Birmingham, we predict the wealth of opportunity will fall on the wholesale, manufacturing and services sectors.

How will wholesale benefit?

Despite already being one of the largest sectors in Birmingham by employment, the wholesale sector continues to go from strength to strength[2]. Perhaps the best representation of this can be seen in the redevelopment of Birmingham Wholesale Market.

At a cost of £48 million, Birmingham City Council provided funds for its relocation, bringing it nearer to Birmingham’s proposed HS2 station and the new Birmingham Enterprise Zone[3].

This decision is expected to safeguard 600 jobs while creating 3,000 more in the region. It represents an investment of nearly £50 million in the future of Birmingham’s wholesale industry.

How about the services sector?

In its Q1 2018 business report[4], the Birmingham Chambers of Commerce noted that 53% of the city’s service businesses had seen an increase in UK sales bookings. As many financial firms in the UK are starting to embrace regionalisation, some – including HSBC – are choosing to relocate to Birmingham. It’s not hard to see the correlation between this growth and the investment in Birmingham’s transport infrastructure.

While London seems likely to remain the undisputed centre of the financial services industry, Birmingham can boast excellent growth in this sector, including higher than average employment. HS2 will surely benefit the finance sector by bringing professionals from other cities to fill skills gaps.

And as for manufacturing?

Birmingham is a major world centre for the production of motor vehicles, defence equipment, plastics, chemicals and glass.

It’s difficult to say how new transport infrastructure will affect the fortunes of Birmingham’s waning manufacturing industry. However, even the most conservative speculators will be optimistic, as Birmingham looks set to enjoy a greater share of resources from the rest of the country – not least a wider pool of engineering staff.

How will NIG support?

As a part of the local economy ourselves (our Midlands office is on Livery Street in Birmingham), we take a vested interest in the West Midlands. We’re proud to support brokers in this city by offering trading tools such as our one quote to market and products like Commercial Combined, which are designed to meet the needs of UK businesses.

We’re committed to supporting manufacturers, wholesalers and professionals and playing our part in building the future of the West Midlands – so why not speak to us today to find out more?

[1] https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/here-major-road-rail-schemes-14023902

[2] https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/research-campaigning/birmingham-economic-review/

[3] https://gbslep.co.uk/projects-and-case-studies/case-studies/birmingham-wholesale-market

[4] https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/research-campaigning/quarterly-business-report/



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