In Parliament this week I called on the UK Government to grasp the opportunity that HS2 presents for the steel industry following this week’s decision to proceed with the project, and also urged ministers to look to Newport-based manufacturers CAF Rail to provide the trains needed for the scheme.
The most recent government estimates suggest that HS2 will require 2 million tonnes of steel, including for tracks, bridges, tunnels, gantries, wire and other components.
Highlighting this in the House of Commons adjournment debate this week, I argued that this would mean huge procurement opportunities for steel producers across the UK, including in South Wales.
I said “I hope that the Government will act to ensure that high-quality UK steel products are used for HS2 wherever possible. It is crucial that Ministers use this opportunity to give our steel industry the vote of confidence that it needs and deserves in extremely challenging times. I will re-emphasise that point to the Government with the members of the all-party group on steel, which I co-chair with the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft).”
I went on to urge ministers to look to Newport-based train builders CAF Rail UK to produce the rolling stock needed for HS2. Last year CAF announced that it was bidding for the £2.75 billion contract to design, build and maintain at least 54 trains for Phase One of HS2. The company have proposed its Oarsis trains – which offer travel speeds of over 360km an hour – for the project.
I said “Train production has been up and running at the site at Llanwern since 2018. I have been fortunate enough to visit the factory to see some of the exceptional units being built for West Midlands trains and Northern. The company has received great support and investment from the Welsh Labour Government and already employs a skilled workforce of around 250 people, which is set to grow to 300 in the near future. CAF has the potential and the capacity to produce trains that are at the cutting edge of modern rail technology.”
I added that CAF was “a perfect fit for HS2”, and that “winning the contract for this major project would be a real boost to our local economy, which has been hit hard recently by difficult times at Orb, Liberty, Enersys and Caldicot Tinmasters.”