HS2 reveals shortlist for mass transit system at Solihull Interchange
Interchange, Airport, West Coast Main Line station, and the National Exhibition Centre. Not much point in having a high-speed railway on the doorstep if you have to walk between the plane and the train (or the exhibition). So HS2 Ltd, the company formed to build Britain’s high-speed railway project, has unveiled the shortlisted bidders for the Automated People Mover (APM) at the Interchange station in Solihull, on the southern edge of Birmingham.
Doppelmayr Cable Car UK Limited and POMA S.A.S may not be the most familiar names in the rail transit canon. They are however the companies on the shortlist for moving you and everyone else between the Solihull Interchange and contracts involve working with HS2 Ltd to deliver and maintain the cable system operation for the APM over 25 years.
An accessible and environmentally friendly ride
According to the HS2 company, the APM network is a crucial component of the HS2 project, connecting four stops: Interchange station, the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham International passenger and express logistics station (on the West Coast Main Line), and Birmingham Airport. “This system aims to serve international and national visitors, commuters, and the wider leisure market reliably”, said HS2’s statement.
The autonomous system is designed to accommodate at least 2,100 people per hour in each direction. There’s future capacity built in for 3,900 people. “The APM promises an accessible and environmentally friendly ride, completing an end-to-end journey in just six minutes”, says HS2.
Poised to be a catalyst for substantial growth
To minimise impacts on the existing road and rail network, the people mover will be constructed on a viaduct over the M42 motorway and West Coast Main Line railway. “The shortlisted bidders take us a step closer to delivering this vital connectivity boost to the HS2 network”, said Andrew Cubitt, HS2’s Procurement and Supply Chain Director. “This clean, green, transport solution will prove invaluable to the millions of people that will use it for onward business and leisure travel.”
Despite all the criticisms and cancellations suffered by HS2, its presence in Solihull is poised to be a catalyst for substantial growth, The Interchange station is at the heart of the 3.2 billion pound (3.75 billion euro) Arden Cross mixed-use commercial and residential destination. This development is expected to support up to 27,000 jobs, deliver 3,000 homes, and provide 557,500 square meters of commercial space. It indicates the development spurt in the West Midlands, much of it attributed to the HS2 project.
Collaboration and dedication of partners
These shortlisted companies are potential operators. HS2 says that market engagement for the design and build contract is due to start later this year. The procurement for this work, starting with the pre-qualification of potential tenderers, will be released in the second quarter of 2025. “Reaching this major step in the project plan is a testament to the collaboration and dedication of every one of our partners”, said Sean Butler, HS2’s Senior Project Manager for the Automated People Mover.
When completed, the Solihull Interchange station will have two 415-metre-long island platforms, offering four platform faces, as well as two central high-speed through lines for non-stopping services. As it stands, Solihull is the only intermediate station on the line, so those central tracks might not see much in the way of traffic. Then again, a lot can change between now and the eventual opening.