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‘HS2 can help rebalance Britain’ – Growth Taskforce

High-speed rail could help cities in the north and the Midlands becoming ‘global leaders’, according to new figures from the HS2 Growth Taskforce.

The taskforce’s report, ‘HS2: get ready’, recommends various steps, such as simplifying and joining up funding to deliver construction fast around HS2 stations sites, to maximise the economic and social impacts of HS2.

By accelerating regeneration and development of brownfield land on the route the Taskforce argues that “big benefits will be seen in just a few years”. It also calls for city regions to work together to integrate local transport networks.

Lord Deighton, Taskforce chair, commercial secretary to the Treasury and the former chief executive of London 2012, said: “Like the Olympics, HS2 has the potential to be a great British success story, bringing jobs and growth to the whole country. Our report sets out the common sense steps that we need to take now to achieve this.”

The Growth Taskforce brings together figures from across the political spectrum and the private and public sectors. Its study also follows Sir David Higgins’ report, HS2 plus, which was published earlier this week, setting out how HS2 might be delivered sooner.

Other recommendations from the report include developing new local bodies to create tailored growth plans for cities along the HS2 route; encouraging local leaders and business to use HS2 to ‘supercharge’ their city regions by creating world-leading transport; working to ensure young people understand and capitalise on the career opportunities HS2 will open up; provide support for British firms to bid for HS2 contracts; and ensure HS2 contracts lead to local job creation, skills development and apprenticeships.

Sir Howard Bernstein, CEO Manchester City Council and deputy chair of the Taskforce, explained: “HS2 is not just a railway. It is the opportunity to re-balance Britain and kick-start regeneration in my city and others across the Midlands and the north of England. It is imperative that we work together to do all we possibly can to get the country ready.”

Railway Industry Assocation (RIA) director general Jeremy Candfield  said: “Skills are a major issue and the report is right to emphasise their importance and HS2's potential for strengthening the supply base. That must be for the long term, not just during the construction phase. It is vital that the country takes the greatest advantage of the opportunities presented by HS2.

“We also applaud the report's recognition of the need for greater collaboration across the railway sector. Both this and skills are areas where RIA and its members have been vigorously engaged for some time. HS2 has the potential to drive real gains, both within the railway industry and for the nation as a whole. This needs to be translated into reality at the earliest opportunity.”

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Nonsuchmike   21/03/2014 at 15:06

Common sense steps that we need to take now, he says. Seems to me that we hold our breath for three years for them to pursue the enabling legislation and get contractors in place and then 15 years of snails pace development that may eventually creep past Birmingham and offer some financial respite to "oop north". What a condescending load of piffle as Boris might have said. What is needed is real solutions to real problems for paying travellers and freight who/which are travelling now. The Halton Curve, the Barnoldswick curve, the Cross Pennine link from Nelson/Colne to Skipton, numerous enabling links around Bristol and the west of England including rerouting and rebuilding the line beyond Okehampton. Better communications with Stansted Airport especially from the East, upgrading the Settle line and more dual ability rollingstock/units for greater flexibility on electrified/non electrified routes. Total cost: about 3 billion spread over 6 years. Good value spread all around the country, with greater comfort and journey opportunities for more customers. Plus Freight - who will never have had it so good. Cost effectiveness:- must be over 2, probably nearer 3. Much as I want HS2, these dotted i's and crossed t's will mean more to the fare paying public and UK commerce in the next ten years than the Grand Project of HS2.

Jb   22/03/2014 at 23:23

Hear, Hear, There is plenty of opportunity to enhance our railway system, so truncated in the 1960s. Before the govt., embarks on the HS2 project, would it not reap quicker benefits to fill in some of the gaps needed now. Typical is the missing 11 or so miles between Skipton and Colne, thus creating another much needed cross-Pennine link and putting the City of Ripon back on the railway map to save road and local train journeys to get to Leeds before they can catch a present HS train let alone an HS2 one. There are several other relatively minor infills which would benefit the population before spending multi-billions on HS2.

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