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HS2 eastern leg could create up to 150,000 jobs

Leaders in the North and the Midlands are calling for HS2 work to be brought forward as new research shows the eastern leg of the line could create up to 150,000 jobs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being pushed to back his promise to ‘build better, faster, greener’ by clearing the way for Phase 2b east of the high-speed network to commence ahead of schedule as they look to support recovery from the Covid-19 outbreak.

New figures show that the area linking Leeds and the East Midlands has seen a £58bn loss in infrastructure funding over the past decade when compared to Greater London.

Leaders in Leeds and Nottinghamshire have also said their economies are missing out on billions in potential every year because they have to suffer from unreliable and overcrowded trains alongside communities cut off from good transport links.

Leeds City Council leader Councillor Judith Blake, and Nottinghamshire County Council leader, Kay Cutts MBE, have joined together to demand that government allows work to start early on Phase2b of the high-speed line.

In a letter to 10 Downing Street, both leaders have said early investment in new infrastructure is critical to government achieving the goals implied by its levelling up agenda.

The research commissioned by the councils formulates part of their submission to the National Infrastructure Commission’s Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North. Some of its findings include:

  • The Eastern Leg is home to 13 million people and around 6m jobs, equating to 20% of the UK – bigger than the combined size of the West Midlands and North West, and larger than the economy of Denmark.
  • Though the area covered by HS2 Phase 2b East is bigger than Greater London, it has received £58bn less transport investment over the past 10 years – enough to have built the Eastern Leg and other vital rail projects.
  • With HS2, the Eastern Leg area will deliver an additional 150,000 jobs and billions more in productivity.

Councillor Judith Blake said: “Making more of the economic potential of the UK’s regions is going to be critical to the nation’s future growth as we seek to both recover from the impact of COVID-19 and confront the challenges of the future.

“But it will not be possible if we continue to rely on failing rail infrastructure which was built more than a century ago. We now need government to reverse historic under-spending and unleash the economic capacity of city regions like Leeds and counties like Nottinghamshire.”

Councillor Kay Cutts said: “The Prime Minister has quite rightly identified infrastructure as a key mechanism for levelling up the country.

“Our strategy goes further than high-speed trains. We have developed detailed plans to make sure the benefits of HS2 extend to people at community level. So, this is our route to future prosperity for everyone and the sooner we start building the better.”


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