HS2 is a once-in-two-century chance to rebalance the UK economy. It isn’t just about creating links to London. There are over 25 stops from Scotland to the south-east. It increases desperately needed capacity on existing lines, creating more space for extra commuter trains. It takes lorries off the road as freight moves to rail, creating more space for the driver on our motorways. There is something in HS2 for every traveller.
The report by the New Economics Foundation (Scrap HS2 and pour £56bn into regions, says thinktank, 20 March) ignores what cities including Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham have all been doing to make sure we benefit. Altogether, cities around the route have plans to create nearly 500,000 jobs, 100,000 new homes and add billions to the economy of the country. Poor connections between our major cities have been holding us back for far too long. Together HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Connect will give us the links that will unleash investment and bring prosperity to the Midlands and the north.
The government is already planning to spend more money on the existing network than it is on HS2 – £48bn in the next few years alone. We would like more, but what has become clear to anyone who understands this issue is that patch and mend does not work any more. Those leaders who live and work in the areas that HS2 will serve know it is an opportunity for us. The government, the opposition, business, and the unions see how it can transform the nation. We need to think bigger. We need HS2.
Cllr Judith Blake Leader of Leeds city council, Cllr John Collins Leader of Nottingham city council, Cllr Ian Ward Leader of Birmingham city council
• Your article tells only a partial story. The economic benefits of HS2 for the north cannot be viewed in isolation from Northern Powerhouse Rail and investment in local infrastructure. They’re game-changers and we must be bold enough to deliver them all.
Connecting Liverpool City Region via new Northern Powerhouse Rail lines to HS2 and onwards to Manchester, the rest of the north and London will deliver a £15bn economic boost for the people of our city region, 24,000 extra jobs, 11,000 new homes and 3.6 million more visitors a year. Speed is great, but it’s really about passenger capacity – and additional freight capacity, which can take 150m HGV miles off our roads.
At the same time, we need the best in local transport connectivity. That’s why we’re investing £460m in new state-of-the-art trains for our Merseyrail network. And why I’ve announced a station commission to develop a new, multi-modal, mixed-use station in Liverpool city centre to accommodate HS2 and NPR trains.
This is a fuller picture, omitted from the article, but included in Transport for the North’s strategic transport plan.
The economic case has been accepted. Government must now put its money where its mouth is and fully fund this key infrastructure. We cannot let this opportunity go.
Metro mayor, Liverpool City Region
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