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Let's embrace HS2 to boost City Region, says LEP Chair

New, high-speed rail link a 'once in a generation' opportunity'.

Neil McLean, chairman of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, has urged the Leeds City Region to embrace HS2.

With the route to Leeds expected to be unveiled any day, Mr Mclean, in a letter to the Yorkshire Post , describes HS2 as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity which has to be grabbed.

‘So far, we have seen details of Phase 1, the route from London to Birmingham. Phase 2 is when the Government’s vision for high speed rail really starts making sense,’ he writes. ‘By linking Birmingham with Manchester, the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds in a Y-shaped network, HS2 will connect nine of the UK’s ten largest cities; providing a massive increase in seats and services on the country’s busiest routes; slashing journey times; and freeing up much needed capacity on existing roads and railways.’

Shot in the arm

‘HS2 won’t just transform the way that we will travel,’ writes Mr McLean. ‘It will also be a huge shot in the arm for our economy. Independent research by Volterra concludes that the new railway will deliver a million new jobs in and around eight major English cities – and that’s outside London. Two thirds of people living in the North will be within two hours of the capital. But more importantly, high speed rail will bring cities in the North and Midlands much closer together, so we can really start rivalling London for jobs and opportunities.’


Mr Mclean goes on in his letter to say that the Leeds City Region has needed a new railway for decades. Its over-burdened transport system, he writes,  has resulted in in lost business, lost investment and lost jobs.

‘If we want our businesses to compete in today’s global economy, we need quick, reliable connections to markets, suppliers and labour sources; and that’s precisely what HS2 will deliver,’ he writes.

He  continues, ‘For far too long, in this country, objectors have frustrated almost every serious proposal to modernise our transport infrastructure. That is why we have a 19th century railway straining to support a 21st century economy; and it’s why almost every other developed country around the world joined the high speed rail revolution before us.’

‘We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the past and miss this opportunity. Instead let’s embrace HS2 just like the Victorians embraced the first railway; and let’s get our city region working again.’