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Metro Chairman says Higgins HS2 appointment is an opportunity for future national rail network

Metro Chairman Cllr James Lewis yesterday welcomed the news that Sir David Higgins would be taking over as Chairman of HS2.

Metro Chairman Cllr James Lewis described the appointment of the new Network Rail boss as an opportunity for the planned high-speed line linking London with Leeds and the north to be seen as an integral part of the country’s future rail network rather than a stand-alone project.

“With the East Coast route reaching capacity and West Coast Main Line forecast to be full again in 10 years, despite a refurbishment that cost £9bn and meant years of disruptions and delays for passengers, we need action now.

 “London’s £15bn Crossrail scheme is well underway and there is talk of Crossrail Two, cost of which Boris Johnson recently revealed had risen by £2.8bn to £15bn, but what’s needed is a new route to keep the whole country moving and the south linked with the north. The technology is there so it should be high-speed but the new line must be built to optimise the benefits of the whole network in the ways shown in the recent Network Rail study and our own joint research with South Yorkshire PTE.

“And while the costs obviously need to be managed, they need to be seen in this overall context including the effects of years of potential disruption to upgrade the East Coast route and a future, further West Coast Main Line upgrade and assessed against the huge benefits to business in the north such as the £2.3 billion of local economic benefits that have been highlighted in our own research and the 13,000 of new jobs HS2 is forecast to create in the Leeds City Region.

“With his Network Rail background, I hope that Sir David will start to adopt this integrated approach to the future of the country’s train services and I look forward to meeting him to discuss how we can ensure West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region enjoys the benefits.”