Leeds Council Leader and Metro Chairman welcome proposals to speed up construction.
Leeds City Council Leader Cllr Keith Wakefield has welcomed the report by HS2 Chairman Sir David Higgins, which recommended bringing forward construction work on the scheme’s northern section and a massive overhaul of railways across the North of England.
“We warmly welcome proposals that respond to our concerns about connecting HS2 to the towns and cities surrounding Leeds, said Cllr Wakefield. “We now need to be released to build from the north and push forward construction of a new station in Leeds that kick starts the regeneration of the south bank.
“We have used our recent positive discussions with Sir David and the HS2 board to express our concerns that the route needs to be right to benefit our region and will continue to press the case for minimising any impact on communities that could lessen any social and economic benefits.
Benefit cost ratio
However, responding to Sir David’s proposition that construction of the line from Birmingham to Crewe is carried out ahead of HS2’s Yorkshire leg, Cllr Wakefield said “It is paramount we parallel the extension of phase one to Crewe with early construction of phase two from Leeds, which has twice the benefit cost ratio.
“Furthermore, we must invest early in the existing network to maximise economic opportunities across the region, such as unlocking more capacity on the east coast to serve Bradford and Wakefield, and electrifying the Caldervale, York and Harrogate lines.”
Welcoming Sir David’s recommendations for greater integration of the HS2 route and local rail lines, Metro Chairman Cllr James Lewis said, “Research Metro published last year showed that optimising use of the high-speed line and improved existing local rail networks to create capacity for additional passenger and freight trains could deliver up to £800m of extra benefits to the Leeds and Sheffield city regions.
“This would be in addition to the 13,000 new Leeds City Region jobs HS2 is forecast to create and the £1bn per year productivity boost research has shown the scheme could generate for West Yorkshire within five years of opening,” he continued.
“Indications from Sir David’s presentation that work on the Leeds’ HS2 station, which will have a transformational effect on Leeds city centre’s south bank area, could start in just seven years’ time are also good news,” added Cllr Lewis.
“Starting construction of the new station in 2021 will unlock unprecedented opportunities for growth and development and will act as a catalyst for business investment and new jobs across the 60 hectare site.
“Cllr Wakefield is right when he says HS2 has the power to transform the connectivity of the region bringing thousands of jobs to Leeds and Yorkshire.”