Transport Secretary Justine Greening in HS2 jobs pledge

Speaking in Birmingham, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said the HS2 high-speed rail network was key to economic growth in the West Midlands

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A £33bn high-speed rail network will create 8,000 jobs at two West Midlands sites, Transport Secretary Justine Greening has said.

Phase one of HS2, between London and Birmingham, should be running by 2026 after receiving government approval.

Ms Greening said half of the jobs would be at Birmingham's former Curzon Street station site, which would be developed.

City council leader Mike Whitby said the others would be in and around Birmingham International station.

He said 22,000 jobs would be created throughout the West Midlands, including service and construction industries.

'Absolutely critical'

Ms Greening and the council leader were speaking on a visit to the Curzon Street area on Wednesday after the rail network was given the go-ahead by the government despite strong opposition.

She said: "This is going to put Birmingham at the heart of the railway network in the same way that it's at the heart of the motorway network.

Artist's impression of the redeveloped Curzon Street station The government said the redevelopment of Curzon Street station would create 4,000 jobs

"I think the broader economic benefits for the West Midlands are going to be absolutely critical and key to the future regeneration and economic fortunes of this part of the country."

The first London to Birmingham train to the former Curzon Street station arrived in September 1838.

Ms Greening has announced extra tunnelling along the 140-mile (225km) first phase of the high-speed rail network in response to environmental concerns.

Asked about compensating people who are facing their homes being demolished to make way for the scheme, she said: "I'm writing to all of those people today and over the next few days to talk to them about what the next steps will be.

"I'm making sure that we've got a package of support for them that goes above and beyond what they're already statutorily entitled to get.

"We're consulting on that final package in the spring. I'm absolutely determined that we deal really fairly with the people who are obviously going to be affected by the route as it gets built."

The London to Birmingham link would be followed by a second phase of the Y-shaped route reaching Manchester and Leeds by about 2033, she has said.

A consultation on the second phase will begin in early 2014, with a final route chosen by the end of that year.

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