A report by northern political and business leaders into the HS2 high-speed rail project has said cancelling it would risk scuppering transformation the UK ‘badly needs’.
The Northern Powerhouse Independent Review said the North and Midlands ‘must take control of their high-speed network and cancelling it ‘without credible and viable alternatives’ would mean vital transformational benefits not being delivered.
HS2 is currently planned to reach Leeds, Manchester and Wigan
It follows the Government’s decision to set up the Oakervee review into the project with fears costs are spiralling out of control.
The new report calls for the establishment of HS2 North – a special purpose vehicle (SVR) similar to the Olympic Delivery Authority – to integrate HS2 with Northern Powerhouse Rail (NSR), a proposed network of new and upgraded lines.
Seeing the move as vital to tackling the ‘historic North-South divide’, the report argues the potential aggregate gross value added (GVA) to the North equates to £1,000bn between 2035 and 2050, as well as creating tens of thousands of jobs.
Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority transport lead, said:
‘There is not a binary choice between having a long-term investment programme for the existing rail network and the delivery of new infrastructure. Both are required if we are to have the modern reliable rail network the UK needs.’
The Oakervee review is believed to be looking at various alterations to the project.
Separately, six regional Confederation of British Industry councils issued a joint statement calling for HS2 to be delivered in full.
‘A scaled back version of HS2 will not deliver the improved connectivity across the country that businesses are crying out for,’ they warned.
In response, Joe Rukin, campaign manager for Stop HS2, said that ‘an organisation which is acting as a mouthpiece from the vested interest construction sector who intend to cash in billions from building HS2 has simply invented illusionary benefits in an act of desperation to stop this project being cancelled’.
This article first appeared on themj.co.uk.