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Construction work could start in Leeds, says HS2 Chairman

Calls by Leeds city leaders to begin building HS2 from the North were given a warm welcome by Sir David Higgins.

20 February, 2014

Proposed Leeds StationCalls by Leeds city leaders to begin building HS2 from the North were given a warm welcome by the Chairman of HS2 Ltd. Sir David Higgins yesterday.

At a meeting of the HS2 board held at Leeds Town Hall on Wednesday 19 February, Leeds City Council Leader Councillor Keith Wakefield led a delegation lobbying for construction of the new high-speed rail link to begin in Leeds.

Kick-start

Senior councillors believe the 2027 start date for the Leeds link should be brought forward. This they say will enable the City Region’s economy to benefit from the jobs created directly in the scheme’s construction and indirectly from the development and investment HS2 will kick-start.

Incredible opportunity

Leeds City Council Councillor and Metro Chair James Lewis said: “High-speed rail is an incredible opportunity for Leeds with the potential to create thousands of new job and homes – an opportunity on a scale we have never seen before.

“HS2 has unwavering support from Leeds. We are very enthusiastic to welcome high-speed rail to Leeds and have tightly integrated it into our ambitious regeneration plans for the city.   

“Leeds has a projected rail user growth of almost 70 per cent by 2029 for this very reason alone it makes sense to start engineering and construction of HS2 right here.

“However we are concerned the route needs to be right to benefit our region and we’re asking the board to revisit this. Today was a chance to demonstrate our commitment to doing all we can to ensure we get the best possible benefits for our city and our region.”

Massive opportunity

After the meeting Sir David Higgins told the BBC’s Look North that construction of HS2 in Leeds and the ‘massive regeneration opportunity’ that it will bring should start once the Bill giving the powers to construct HS2’s second stage has successfully passed through Parliament.

He said similar high-speed rail schemes in Europe had shown that you could build the lines and start the economic regeneration around them even iof the trains came later. And he pointed out that starting construction sooner made it cheaper because it minimiosed the effects on inflation.

Catalyst

A new HS2 station in Leeds is being seen as a catalyst for regeneration of the south bank area, which will soon benefit from the opening of the new Leeds Station Southern Entrance.

Find out more about the Leeds Station Southern Entrance (new window).

And a study commissioned by Metro and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive shows that HS2 could deliver up to £800m of extra benefits to the Leeds and Sheffield city regions through efficient integration with the improved existing local rail networks. This would mean increased capacity for additional passenger and freight trains.

Download 'Leeds and Sheffield City Regions' High Speed Future' summarising research into the potential benefits of HS2. (pdf file opens in new window 8916K)

The HS2 board’s visit was further marked by the launch of a programme recruiting business ambassadors pledging their support for HS2. Fore Consulting, Town Centre Securities, Shulmans solicitors, Land Securities and Think Architecture have already signed up and more are expected to join.