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Osborne to deliver ‘Powerhouse’ message at tonight's RTM event

The chancellor, George Osborne, will address the audience at RTM’s black-tie High Speed 2 The Northern Hub Dinner tonight.

Osborne will broadcast a video message from the Treasury, ahead of keynote speeches by HS2 managing director for development Alison Munro and Network Rail’s LNW route director Jim Syddall.

The event at Manchester’s Palace Hotel is being attended by more than 650 people from across the rail industry, and organisations including Network Rail and HS2, the major contractors, TOCs, PTEs, councils, consultants, plant hire companies and Manchester Airport.

The event is being hosted by Richard Westcott, the BBC transport correspondent, with a panel discussion also featuring Jon Lamonte, chief executive of Transport for Greater Manchester; Nick Donovan, director of First TransPennine Express; Charlie Cornish, group chief executive at Manchester Airport; and Alex Hynes, managing director of Northern Rail.

The event will be a chance to hear about the massive business opportunities in the coming years as the north’s rail network is transformed, and how the capacity improvements from the Northern Hub upgrades and electrification will link with HS2 to boost connectivity, growth and help rebalance the economy.

Osborne and HS2 Ltd chair Sir David Higgins have spoken of the need for a radical transformation of east-west connectivity in the north to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’, perhaps via a trans-Pennine HS3 link. Such a link, building on the Northern Hub improvements, will no doubt be discussed at the dinner too.

Camlin Rail is the headline sponsor of the event, and Royal HaskoningDHV is the champagne reception sponsor.

RTM spoke to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin earlier this month about the themes of the dinner, and he said: “When HS2 and Northern Hub combine, they’re going to be vitally important. One of the things that I’ve often said in this country is that we do north-south not too badly: we have a capacity problem but we are addressing that with project like HS2. But we don’t do east-west particularly well. It is rather odd that we don’t link up Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Hull as well as it should be. I think looking at the northern belt and improving connectivity is important.”

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese is a strong backer of the event and has written then foreword for tonight’s programme. He said: “These are exciting times for the north’s rail network. We have long made the case that improved rail connectivity is essential if our great northern cities are to fulfil their potential.”

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