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Regional leaders call for HS2 to be completed all the way

HS2 must be completed all the way to the North and integrated with Northern Powerhouse Rail to achieve the maximum impact on rebalancing the UK’s economy, High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) said at the annual conference in Manchester this week.

Delegates assembled at the University of Manchester from across industry, local and national government, devolved transport organisations and academia. The conference focused on the importance of HS2’s second phases, in particular how it would integrate with regional transportation programmes like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Rail Hub.

The conference heard how HS2 will have a transformative impact on economic prospects in regional economies across the North and the Midlands, improving infrastructure beyond the line of route, and creating new opportunities and lasting jobs and skills. Representatives from the Midlands and North came together to emphasise their support for HS2 and regional transport schemes, including Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse director at Transport for the North (TfN), and Maria Machancoses, director at Midlands Connect.

In a keynote session, mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham reiterated the importance of HS2 to the North, warning Conservative Party leadership candidates that bringing the future of HS2 into question would be politically dangerous. Burnham urged the next Prime Minister to not give in to a false choice of having to pick between HS2 and NPR. Meanwhile, the Chair of HS2 Ltd Allan Cook said that the benefits of HS2 will be felt for generations to come, and affirmed that HS2 is being built to last well into the 22nd century.

The HS2 minister Nusrat Ghani MP confirmed that the government is working closely with TfN on proposals for Northern Powerhouse Rail, and that HS2 infrastructure will be critical for the success of the scheme. The minister said that it is “completely false” to say that the North cannot have both projects.

Isabel Coman, HSRIL director, opening the event, said: “We need to keep momentum going for HS2, now more than ever. The project has its naysayers, however, their comments quite often suggest a misunderstanding of the project and the vast opportunity it presents. We need to continue to fight for this project until the very first train rolls off and keep on educating and spreading the message on just how transformational it will be for Britain, particularly in the North and Midlands where their economies’ future growth is dependent on HS2’s completion.”

Allan Cook

Allan Cook CBE, chair of HS2 Ltd, said: “HS2 is a transformational programme. The investments we have made – and will continue to make in the next two decades – will transform our transport infrastructure for generations. It is an integral part of the UK Industrial Strategy which will help to improve connectivity throughout the UK – utilising the talent and expertise in the Midlands and the North, and building a stronger, more competitive economy. The new railway will have a positive environmental impact by taking intercity trains off the existing lines, creating more space for extra commuter trains and reducing freight traffic on our motorways.

“Collaborating closely with Northern Powerhouse Rail, Transport for the North, Network Rail and Midlands Rail Hub, we will create a transport network which will open up the whole country. Travel on our network will be more environmentally friendly, more efficient, more comfortable and more reliable. Businesses will have access to more talent and more open markets, and families and friends will be able to live and work where they choose.”

HS2 minister Nusrat Ghani MP said: “HS2 will increase capacity across our network while improving rail connections between 25 towns and cities. Not only this, but it’s going to help deliver up to 30,000 jobs, revitalise areas and provide economic benefits that will help rebalance the economy.

Andy Burnham and Sarah Jane Mee

“Alongside this, NPR will significantly improve connectivity and passenger experience across the North. We are also clear that the north needs both of these projects; it is not either/or – the full benefits of NPR rely on HS2.”

Mayor Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “The North of England needs to be at the front of the queue for infrastructure spending for the next 25 years. After generations of chronic underinvestment, some still expect us to have to choose between HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. Why can’t we have both?

“A Conservative leadership candidate seriously planning to question HS2 should consider what that will mean for the North, for rebalancing our national economy, and for boosting jobs and growth in areas that need it most.”

Maria Machancoses, director at Midlands Connect, will be appearing at this year's TCR Midlands as a keynote speaker. TCR Midlands is being held on 18 July, bringing together a selection of high-profile speakers and decision makers in rail in the Midlands all in one place. Don't miss your chance to attend, visit the website here to enquire.


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