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Core Cities leaders meet Transport Secretary at High-Speed Rail

Government fully committed to delivering HS2 as early as possible, says Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

Cllr Richard LewisLeeds City Council’s executive board member for Development and the Economy, Cllr Richard Lewis met Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, at a Core Cities Council Leaders’ High-Speed Rail summit on Thursday 17 January.

Aimed at ensuring everything possible is being done to maximise the benefits of High Speed Rail to the north, the meeting was organised by the Core Cities group of England’s economic powerhouses outside London.  Representatives from Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Bristol told the Transport Secretary they wanted to see HS2, the Y-shaped network to Yorkshire and the north-west from Birmingham, to be delivered as quickly as possible.

Councillor said “This is about more than just high speed rail, it is about the much needed expansion and increase in capacity of our rail system.

Massive benefits

“This will make a huge difference not just to Leeds but to Yorkshire as a whole and will improve our connectivity with places such as Birmingham and the East Midlands in addition to London.  As a council we are keen to ensure that it also brings massive benefits in terms of the potential for Leeds and the surrounding area to develop further as a major hub for business, investment, jobs and leisure.

“The meeting with Patrick McLoughlin and the other Core City leaders was very useful and we are looking forward to hearing further announcements in the future.”

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told them that the Government is fully committed to delivering HS2 as early as possible and maximising the benefits for the north, including the Leeds City Region.

He said: “I welcome the support of the Core Cities group and share their desire to see HS2 delivered as quickly as possible. HS2 will significantly cut journey times to London and Birmingham. It will create jobs, drive growth and transform connectivity between the North, Midlands and London.

“When I announce my preferred route for the next stage of the project, we will be able to show how we have further improved our plans to deliver even greater benefits to the north.”

When the high speed lines are extended to Leeds and Manchester, opening by 2032/2033, both cities will see the full benefits of being on Britain’s new high speed rail network. Journey times between Leeds and London to under 80 minutes, and between Leeds and Birmingham to just 57 minutes.

Local productivity

Research carried out on behalf of Metro and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive shows that the HS2 high-speed rail route through Yorkshire would generate an estimated £2.3 billion of local productivity benefits on top of the predicted £60 billion of standard national transport benefits.

By linking the Leeds City Region, the Sheffield City Region and the “Three Cities” of Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, it will also connect an area of 6.7 million people and 3 million jobs.

HS2 will free up space for additional commuter, regional and freight services on the main North to South lines, including the East Coast Main Line. Forecasts show that the East Coast Main Line will be full by the mid 2020s. Without investment in new capacity, the country will be faced with more crowding, less reliable services and more freight on the roads.
The Core Cities group sees HS2 as a central component of a coherent national rail and wider infrastructure strategy to release capacity, rebalance the economy and support growth in important economic sectors, which would otherwise be constrained through a lack of connectivity.