Leeds civic and business leaders call for government to approve high-speed rail
The Leader of Leeds City Council and the city’s business community have called on the government to give its formal approval for high-speed rail when HS2 is discussed again this week.
The parliamentary Bill for phase one of HS2 will be given its third reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday, with MPs debating and voting on the first part of the proposed new rail link to run from London to Birmingham.
The government and HS2 Ltd are continuing to develop the plans for the second phase of HS2, which would then see the line move north splitting in a ‘Y’ shape heading to Manchester and Leeds.
The creation of the full HS2 network is considered essential in order to offer improved rail services, addressing capacity issues on the existing rail network, and to be used as a catalyst for growth especially in the north and the midlands as a way of developing and rebalancing the national economy.
Estimates put the eastern leg of HS2 (Birmingham to Leeds) as providing an economic boost of £4.2billion by bringing together five of the 10 largest city regions in the UK and a population of 12 million people. Feedback on the proposed route through Leeds particularly local concerns have been passed on to the government and HS2 Ltd by Leeds City Council as part of the development of the eastern leg plans.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said:
“We’d like to see all elements of the HS2 project approved as soon as possible so building work can start without delay. HS2 and HS3 offer transformational opportunities for the local, regional and national economy, so it’s essential they are completed in their entirety to ensure maximum economic benefit is achieved.
“In Leeds we will continue to press for full approval and for building work to start from the north, rather than from the south. That would bring the economic benefits to the north sooner, in line with the commitment to use HS2 to rebalance the national economy.”
Leeds Chamber of Commerce President Gerald Jennings said:
“Although it is still some time before HS2 reaches Leeds already we are seeing investment activity in the city and an excitement from our membership keen to ensure this once in a generation opportunity captures maximum economic benefit.
“Following the announcement in autumn 2015 that the preferred option will be for a single station, dubbed the Yorkshire Hub, there is a buzz about how the city centre and South Bank Leeds might develop off the back of vastly improved connectivity to other core cities and regions. The announcement by Burberry to locate close to the station will, I’m sure, be followed by others over the coming years. Of course HS2 won’t get to Leeds unless it gets to Birmingham first and we urge our MPs to attend the debate and show their support.”
As part of the preparations for HS2, Leeds Station is to be remodelled providing 13,000 new jobs and offering improved transport links to local, regional and national networks. The government has also approved the development of detailed plans for proposed high-speed east-west HS3 services between Leeds and Manchester.
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