UK: Why High Speed Rail is Good for North West – Leaders

Our report HS2 North West Voices brings together a range of influential voices in the North West, outlining the “transformational benefits” HS2 – delivered “all the way” to Glasgow – will bring to the North West economy. 

Two of the region’s leading Conservative and Labour MPs back the report and say HS2 will ensure the country is “firing on all cylinders”

John Stevenson MP (Conservative, Carlisle) and Lucy Powell MP (Labour, Manchester Central) say:

“HS2 is vital to fundamentally addressing the North-South divide.  With inequalities of prosperity and opportunity between the North and the South, connecting London all the way to Glasgow will ensure that every part of our country is firing on all cylinders.  HS2 will turn great cities, like Manchester and Carlisle, into inter-connected economic powerhouses, helping us to excel into the 2020s and beyond, and it will tackle the division between North and South, bringing Britain together with the first new North-South railway in a hundred years.”

The report outlines how HS2 will “turbo charge the wider Northern economy, opening up and increasing opportunities for the region’s businesses and communities,” – the authors set out how below:

HS2 will tackle the capacity crunch on North-South railways

John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle, says that HS2 “is the only way of tackling the capacity crunch and improving journey times.”

Chris Fletcher, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, says “something radical is needed, and quick” to solve the capacity crunch.

HS2 will help us achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and remove freight from roads

Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central, describes HS2 as “essential” if we are to “deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2050”.

Liverpool’s Cllr Liam Robinson says that HS2 would create a “national step change…removing 150 million HGV road kilometres a year.”

Frank McKenna of Downtown in Business claims HS2 would relieve city centres “of the nightmare gridlock scenarios we see during rush hour on a daily basis.”

HS2 will smash the North-South divide

For too long, Britain has suffered from huge regional imbalances, with productivity in London some 40 per cent greater than in the North.  Underinvestment in transport infrastructure in the North West has constrained growth and business productivity.  Improving productivity of the UK city regions in the North West is critical to driving the UK economy and spreading prosperity:

John Stevenson MP and Lucy Powell MP jointly state that HS2 is “vital to fundamentally addressing the North-South divide” and that “connecting London all the way to Glasgow” will reduce “inequalities of prosperity and opportunity between the North and the South” and ensure that “every part of our country is firing on all cylinders”, turning cities in the North West into “inter-connected economic powerhouses”.

Chris Fletcher of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce said that if you “[a]sk anyone in the North of England for an example of the ‘North South divide’…many people would immediately identify the disparity in spending per head on transport.”

Frank McKenna of Downtown in Business says Londoners receive “£2,555 more than northerners” on transport spend.
HS2 will reduce journey times

 The report outlines what will happen to current journey times under HS2:

Manchester – Birmingham: halved from 88 mins to 40 mins

Carlisle – London: drop from 3 hrs 15 mins to just over 2 hrs 30 mins

Carlisle – Wigan: drop from around two hours to 1 hr 24 mins

Carlisle – Crewe: drop from 1 hr 30 mins to under an hour

London – Manchester: almost halved from 127 minutes to 67 minutes

HS2 will improve business connectivity and productivity and bring development and regeneration to the North West

HS2 will provide a step-change in connectivity to the North, bringing people, their skills and businesses closer together to open up markets and create a more balanced economy:

Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, claims that “HS2 and NPR will put rocket boosters behind the economy of the North.”

Pat Bartoli of Manchester City Council says that HS2 would bring a “step change in connectivity to the cities outside of London” and represents “one of the biggest development opportunities in the UK.”

Philip Cox of Cheshire and Warrington LEP says that high speed rail projects “act as a catalyst to economically reposition towns, cities and regions” which would be “attractive to a range of businesses locating for the first time.”

Chris Fletcher of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce describes the “spark” HS2 “can ignite in local economies”, claims that HS2 is a “genuinely once in a lifetime” opportunity and that HS2 “will allow currently unthinkable and unattractive commutes to become a reality”.

HS2 will boost jobs and skills
Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, says that “HS2 and NPR will…open up more opportunities for northern young people, businesses and communities.”

Liverpool’s Cllr Liam Robinson claims that “improved journeys are worth…24,000 new jobs through more businesses wanting to locate in our city region.”

Will Roberts highlights Alstom’s investment “in new technology and skills, training a new generation of North West talent.”

Pat Bartoli of Manchester City Council says HS2 “will provide huge job opportunities, both during construction and operational phases. Additional long-term employment opportunities will come from the increased development and investment brought to the city.”

 . HS2 will drive business growth and increase export power

Tim Hawkins of the Manchester Airports Group says that HS2 would “send a practical and symbolic message, demonstrating the importance of businesses from across the North” and that “the ability for Northern businesses to be global” requires “the best infrastructure.”

Liverpool’s Cllr Liam Robinson claims that HS2 is “essential to support the growth of the Port of Liverpool.”

 HS2 will increase tourism in North West towns and cities

 John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle, says that “you will see more people from the South of England coming up to the region, not just the Lake District, but also to explore Hadrian’s Wall, South West Scotland and the northern parts of Cumbria.”

Pat Bartoli of Manchester City Council says that “a culturally rich, enjoyable and highly functional city centre is key to attracting and retaining businesses, workers, residents and visitors.”

Liverpool’s Cllr Liam Robinson claims that improved rail links “will also mean 3.6m additional visitors – business and leisure – every year.”

HS2 will lead to more homes and investments in communities

Chris Cooney of Bombardier Crewe says that HS2 has caused “a real buzz in the town” not least because of the “7,000 new homes by 2043” that are “expected in a new commercial hub around the station.”

Pat Bartoli of Manchester City Council estimates that HS2 “will bring…13,000 new homes and 820,000 square metres of new commercial development in the area surrounding Piccadilly.”

Liverpool’s Cllr Liam Robinson projects “11,000 new homes to accommodate people in those additional jobs.”

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