Leaders say HS2 benefits must be delivered to the North in review submission

Date published: 07 October 2019

HS2 is essential to re-balance the UK’s economy and its future should be resolved without delay. That’s the message from the North’s leaders, who have called on the team leading the review of the rail project to recognise the benefits to the North of England.

High Speed 2 (HS2) is the proposed new high-speed railway directly connecting Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and London, funded by UK taxpayers. HS2 is being designed to operate initially at 360 kilometres per hour, faster than any other train in the world.

Two new HS2 tracks to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly are expected to create space for additional train paths on the corridors to Crewe and Stockport, providing options for more frequent local or regional services. 

Phase one, the section between London and Birmingham, was due to open at the end of 2026, but could now be between 2028 and 2031, with a staged opening, starting with initial services between London Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street, followed by services to and from London Euston.

The second phase, from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, has also been delayed.

In a submission to Review Chair Doug Oakervee, Transport for the North states that delivering HS2 in full would transform connectivity and support the regeneration of towns and cities. It will also release much-needed capacity for both freight and passenger services across the North.

Elsewhere, Transport for the North say that - given the significant opportunity for the North - political and business leaders must have a clearer role in the development and delivery of HS2, with representation on the HS2 Ltd Board.

Critically, Transport for the North says HS2 is a vital component of a modern and dependable railway and must be planned as part of an integrated approach alongside Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North, said: “HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, delivered together in full, would tackle head-on the productivity gap between the North and the South, and provide the modern, fit-for-purpose railway the North so badly needs.

“Most of the North’s rail hubs are simply at capacity. Our analysis shows that, by 2050, demand for rail travel in the North could be four times higher than today. But today, the network is struggling to perform and is hampered by slow trains and unreliable services.

“If we’re to cope with rocketing rail demand that comes with the kind of economy we want to see, we need more capacity, faster services and more reliable journeys. Connecting the North with both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail would deliver just that.

“It’s important that the review panel recognise the full opportunity not only by looking at HS2 as purely track and train, but its role at the heart of connecting the North and beyond; regenerating towns and cities; and as a core part of a new integrated railway.”

The submission, which can be read at www.transportforthenorth.com/reports/ outlines how Northern Powerhouse Rail will connect with HS2 at key junctions. It will also use HS2 infrastructure to deliver a step change in East-West connectivity between the North’s towns and cities – delivering better connections and increased opportunities.

The Review into HS2 is expected to report its findings this autumn.

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