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Osborne: Ministers must ensure HS2 redesigns include HS3 plans

Former chancellor George Osborne along with lobby groups representing the interests of business leaders in the north have today joined the call for investment in HS3, also known as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

Osborne, along with the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, which he is chair of, has urged the government to “commit to reversing the under investment in northern infrastructure” and warned about the negative effects of downgrading a number of large projects in the north of England.

The Partnership is also today launching a campaign to lobby the government for the new high-speed east-west rail connections from Liverpool to Hull, starting with the line across the Pennines – an area that could also see its electrification project cut by the government.

“Specifically, ministers should include the planning for the future connections when they set out the design for phase 2b of HS2 later this year, remodelling four junctions to ensure they are complimentary with the NPR proposals, start the detailed planning work on the line itself and allocate a long-term capital budget,” he wrote.

Osborne argued that though the estimated cost of the Pennines line had been put as high as £7bn, the investment could be spread over a number of years to allow this to happen.

Writing in the Financial Times, the ex-chancellor admitted that this investment would “not be cheap”, but would “transform” economies in the north in the long run.

“There is no geographical reason why this cannot happen,” Osborne wrote. “The distance between Manchester and Leeds is shorter than the length of the Central line on the London Underground.

“The NPR fits with May’s stated objective of building an economy that works for everyone.”

Osborne’s call also follows a number of different authorities in the north of England also demanding consisted investment in northern transport infrastructure.

Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram have both previously criticised Grayling’s decision to ditch the northern electrification projects, and have also called on the government to prioritise HS3 over any investment in Crossrail 2.

And think tank IPPR North recently launched a petition to rebalance the “scandal” of underfunding in the north. The organisation even organised a public ‘moan-in’, encouraging northern residents to call into TV and radio shows complaining about the lack of cash put into transport in the north.

TfN's chief executive David Brown also told RTM that the Northern Powerhouse Rail network was at the heart of its plans to transform connectivity in the north by putting 1.3 million people within an hour's reach of the North's major cities. 

“We look forward to ongoing Government support by ensuring Transport for the North is established as a single voice for the North with approval to become a statutory body by the end of 2017; acknowledging that our 30 year Strategic Transport Plan is necessary and realistic to deliver transformational economic growth," he stated

"We also look forward to planning for Northern Powerhouse Rail within the design for Phase 2b of the HS2 network in the Hybrid Bill; and committing to the development of the Northern Powerhouse Rail network as the third phase of the UK’s high speed rail programme, ensuring these schemes are planned and delivered in a seamless and cost-effective manner," Brown added. 

"None of this will happen overnight, but commitment to a phased programme of road and rail investments now will give the North the confidence required for sustained economic growth."

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, argued that efforts were already being made to make sure communities across England all benefited from new investment.

“Of course, rail companies support growing the railway to improve connections for communities, passengers and businesses as it helps boost economic growth and makes journeys better,” he said.

“That's why the rail industry is working together on new ways of developing, financing and delivering projects in partnership so they achieve the best value for customers and taxpayers.”

A spokesman for the DfT also stated that the government had already made a commitment to NPR by giving £60m to Transport for North to develop plans.

“We are also investing billions of pounds across the north of England to better connect communities, build the Northern Powerhouse, and deliver improved journeys right across the region,” the DfT spokesperson explained.

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HS2 White Elephant   22/08/2017 at 11:40

He has a cheek after saddling the country with HS2 at what is likely to be £100 billion he then asks for HS3. HS3 is needed far more than HS2 which will generate far more benefit to the country as a whole than HS2 with it's huge price tag will ever do. HS3 needs building not HS2.

Graham Nalty   22/08/2017 at 12:26

HS2 will only work for the North if the North develops its own strategy for new infrastructure to link the cities. Allowing HS2 Ltd. to specify the route and stations and expecting the northern cities to fit in with that (become HS2 ready - whatever that is) is a recipe for waste and inefficiency. Just look at the mess that HS2 are making with Sheffield and the highly unpopular destruction of the Shimmer estate. A common sense approach would be to run all the Leeds HS2 services via Sheffield Midland and the Newcastle services via Doncaster. When you add all to the HS2 services to the o 6 an hour proposed HS3 services, there will be a very congested stretch of track that will cause delays as trains from two directions join the HS2 line. Lets not put the cart before the horse. Lets get right planned development of the northern rail network right first and then link in HS2. This means not only between Liverpool and Hull and points between, but all the commuter lines into these cities as well.

Ampox   22/08/2017 at 12:52

Surely what is needed are much better and faster rail links in the Northern Powerhouse, not the Very Expensive Infrastructure that would be needed for a HS line (?350 km/hr). These could be provided for a fraction of the cost of a High Speed line, making them quicker to provide and more affordable

Paul Bowers   22/08/2017 at 12:58

Pull the plug - now! Before even more money is wasted on the monumental folly that is HS2. 99% of the population will be paying £billions that could be better spent on the NHS and the Police; so that 1% can shave 20 minutes off their journey to London. Who thinks that is good idea?

Stratfan   22/08/2017 at 13:35

Why do I care what Osbourne says. He was a dreadful chancellor and doubled the national debt. We should scrap the money pit that is hs2 and only invest in game changing technological advances

Mark Hare   22/08/2017 at 14:28

Are there really still idiots around that think that HS2 is about shaving a few minutes off a journey from London to Birmingham? We need HS2 NOW. WCML and ECML are running at or near capacity, a dedicated High Speed line will free up valuable paths for passenger and freight on the north-south corridor. Get your heads out of the sand Luddites and accept the fact that HS2 is happening.

Stratfan   22/08/2017 at 15:00

This idiot doesn't understand that if it is about capacity why does it have to run at max 250 mph and therefore in a straight line,stopping nowhere between London and Birmingham. This costs far more both financially,environmentally and forces people to give up their homes.

Paul   22/08/2017 at 15:21

There is already a third line south to north and that is the Midland mainline. That should be upgraded and link into Sheffield and surrounding towns. Advances in technology will allow trains to run faster and closer together thus creating increased capacity. Also don't overlook the fact that we need to create capacity throughout the network for freight. Money spent on HS2 would go a long way to resolving a lot of these issues. Q. how many people will use / be able to afford HS2 prices? It is the daily commuter that needs an upgrade in their daily travel not the occasional salesman.

James Ellis   22/08/2017 at 16:16

Electrify the Chiltern main line out of Marylebone & Paddington, this has the capacity to carry 22 trains an hour & would be far cheaper & quicker to build than HS2, it already goes straight to Birmingham, HS3 is a good idea.

Michael Zking   22/08/2017 at 16:26

I think the label HS is being diluted. Faster than now. Better trains , is what our endearing former Chancellor means. Most people here are using it as an excuse to criticise HS2. This IS about the North and its development. I was recently at Leeds Station , boy do those services up there need transforming. And the North-West boy does it need the M6 improvement finished and extra Rail Capacity. Grayling dropped a big stitch recently. But this is not totally about " the Conservatives" nor is about that "horrible" phrase ..Vanity Projecty" ....Other parties' leaders , Burnhsm etc are joining in for to push much needed investment in the North. The only good electric commuter services I can see are Ilkely -Leeds , Skipton - Leeds Harrogate? Welll..... Etcetera Do it ,

Jerry Dowse   22/08/2017 at 17:09

What we need are people in charge who know what they are doing/needs doing.not these idiots in charge who think they know etc etc.

James Ellis   22/08/2017 at 18:20

Of course we already had a North South mainline but Beeching saw it off provoking much controversy, The Grand Central Railway, "Among] the main lines in the process of closure, surely the prize for idiotic policy must go to the destruction of the until recently most profitable railway per ton of freight and per passenger carried in the whole British Railways system, as shown by their own operating statistics. These figures were presented to monthly management meetings until the 1950s, when they were suppressed as "unnecessary", but one suspects really "inconvenient" for those proposing Beeching type policies of unnecessarily severe contraction of services [...] This railway is of course the Great Central forming a direct Continental loading gauge route from Sheffield and the North to the Thames valley and London for Dover and France [...].[21]" The Daily Telegraph 28 September 1965, Denis Anthony Brian Butler, 9th Earl of Lanesborough, a peer and railway supporter, Bring it back then,

Jb   22/08/2017 at 19:22

Absolutely Paul Bowers! There are several projects in the North which are far more deserving and would cost much less than HS2. Will the Govt. please 'get real' and spend our limited resources on more practical improvements and channel the savings to the NHS, the Police, the Fire Service, Education, Social Services, etc.

John Grant   22/08/2017 at 19:48

Reopening the Great Central would have brought all the capacity benefits. There was the possibility of reopening Nottingham Victoria, too. The GCR was originally built as an east-west link, and only later was the connection to London added. (Or rather, the connection to the Channel Tunnel, which only ever got as far as Marylebone; now, of course, one could look at linking that to STP.)

Chrism   23/08/2017 at 01:31

Oh my, loads of rose-tinted dreamers calling for the Great Central to be revived from it's half century of slumber. Forgetting for a moment that much of the trackbed is built over and gone forever - how hard is it to understand that there is hardly any spare platform capacity left at Paddington and Marylebone? What is idiotic is to assume the cramped and busy existing Chiltern lines south of Aylesbury and Princes Risborough offer any meaningful hope of more capacity for future growth!!! To believe that is possible needs a person to have serious levels of delusion, it has to be said. Whinge till the cows come home, it doesn't make any difference now. The HS2 bill is now law, and construction will start soon. The only solution for the UK is new build - there is no other way. And when you start new it is then easy to design for much faster and longer trains than our antiquated 19th century lines can ever hope to cope with. HS2 really is the only realistic way forward. Adding two more tracks alongside an existing railway would cause more than a decade of disruption every weekend. We did that before on the West Coast line and the end result was pretty lame. And no doubt there would be a fresh set of Nimbys moaning about it. Nope, no more dithering or navel gazing, just get HS2 built ASAP - so this country can finally enjoy the full benefits of a modern transport system. The Japanese got their version a half a century ago. It brought them a lot of wealth, as did the TGV for the French. In fact they just opened two new lines with frequent 200mph trains. Good on them, but the UK needs to enjoy the same

Stratfan   23/08/2017 at 07:35

We were told by Hammond that hs2 would save the north/south divide. It obviously doesn't so scrap it now.

Mark Hare   23/08/2017 at 11:21

@James Ellis - As far as I'm aware Paddington is already electrified and has been for many years. As for Marylebone, there is zero chance of electrification and Chiltern currently run trains at 3-minute headways during the peak already, there is no room to run any more trains at these times and the Evergreen projects have already upgraded the line speeds as much as possible. @Chrism is the only one on this thread speaking any sense. HS2 will bring huge benefits to many rail users and the country in general. It's pointless arguing about what 'could have been' with the GC etc. HS2 is happening, simple as that.

Stratfan   23/08/2017 at 11:50

Hs2 is so flawed that I am sure something momentous will happen with the project leaving someone with no choice but to pull the plug. The truth always comes out eventually

Jobey Jones   23/08/2017 at 14:44

During the likely timeframe for this project Hyperloop MAY be a proven concept and would therefore be a cheaper solution, together with offering a bigger benefit, will be faster have a lower energy profile and ticket costs.

J, Leicester   24/08/2017 at 10:53

Jobey Jones, developments with Hyperloop are promising, and I can envisage somewhere like China taking a punt on building a route within the next decade, but let's not kid ourselves - even if it WAS a proven concept by 2030, the amount of dithering we in the UK do over any public project would mean we'd be lucky to see an operational line this century, never mind by the end of HS2 / 3 construction!

Jobey Jones   24/08/2017 at 13:23

Abu Dhabi to Dubai is being designed now planned 2020 freight and 2021 passengers (Add 2-5 years). Also schemes likely South KKorea and in Europe Helsinki to Stockholm. When proven and architecture is in some ways simpler, argument to adopt may be compelling. Why spend £20bn if you can spend £10bn with bigger benefits (Speed) and lower operating costs too. Championed by Elon Musk and look what he did with Space X. Yes we do need a can do attitude, once proven.

James Ellis   27/08/2017 at 20:11

"Stratfan   23/08/2017 at 11:50 Hs2 is so flawed that I am sure something momentous will happen with the project leaving someone with no choice but to pull the plug. The truth always comes out eventually" And if the plug is pulled is there a plan B ?

Michael Wand   28/08/2017 at 20:43

For a Plan B, see the NorthStart website: and my submission to Lord Hollick's 'HS2' Committee on building a Northern Cities Crossrail before any start on HS2: and

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