HS2 is prompting new regional approaches to connectivity and generating growth across the Midlands and the North, including in areas not directly served by the line, its developers have claimed.
A new report from HS2 Ltd, Changing Britain: HS2 taking root, which was produced in collaboration with regional and local authorities, sets out the line’s role in the economic plans and regeneration programmes for nine towns and cities and their surrounding regions.
The report says the additional connectivity HS2 will bring is being integrated into local transport plans, producing gains for regions as a whole rather than just the towns and cities that will host integrated high speed stations.
It cites the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership's (LEP) plans to capitalise on the arrival of HS2 and make Preston the engine for ambitious plans to establish an ‘arc of prosperity’, running from Lancaster (which HS2 trains will also serve), down the west coast.
It says: 'If productivity gains from the impact of HS2 services are similar to those predicted for other regions, in the long term it could help provide an extra £600m for the LEP region and 3,000 additional jobs in Preston and South Ribble.'
David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, said regions are using their local knowledge to identify local strengths and work out how the improved connectivity HS2 will deliver ‘can take those strengths to a different level’.
He said: ‘HS2 isn’t just acting as a catalyst for change at a national level but also – and perhaps even more so – at a regional and local level. During the past two years we have seen that process at work in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, London, the East Midlands and Crewe, as well as South Yorkshire.
‘Now we are beginning to see it also in those areas which will not be directly on the newly built railway line, but will be served by HS2 trains. These will run on to the classic network to areas such as Newcastle, York, and Darlington in the east and Liverpool, Stafford, Warrington, Preston, Wigan and Carlisle in the west.’
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 campaign manager, said: ‘It is fitting that on Halloween, Government have magicked up phantom figures for a zombie project that will suck the life-blood out of the railways. Yet again, they have blown taxpayers money conjuring numbers which have no basis in reality, in another desperate attempt to bewitch the public into believing this colossal white elephant is a good idea.’