[T]ransport Secretary Chris Grayling today confirmed the majority of the preferred HS2 route from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds in a major boost for the UK’s future economic prosperity and a further clear signal the country is open for business.
This is a major step towards significantly increasing capacity on our congested railways for both passengers and freight; improving connections between the biggest cities and regions; generating jobs, skills and economic growth and helping build an economy that works for all.
A report recently published by HS2 Ltd, Changing Britain: HS2 taking root, demonstrated business leaders in Cumbria have been quick to recognise the benefits that high speed rail will deliver. In its Cumbria Infrastructure Plan, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has ranked rail connectivity as a high priority, recognising the need to provide better access and passenger facilities at stations set to receive HS2 trains.
Plans are already underway in Carlisle to enhance the station’s role as an integrated transport hub. New businesses, shops and housing all form part of the authorities’ regeneration plans for the area. The Station Gateway Plan could generate an additional £40 million a year for the economy.
As is the case for Carlisle, the other eight regional and local authorities included in the Changing Britain 2: HS2 taking root report are also reliant on HS2 for the delivery of many aspects of their local economy plans. Integrating HS2 services into the existing transport network will spread the benefits as widely as possible across Cumbria and neighbouring regions.
HS2 trains will join the West Coast Mainline at Golborne and continue up to Wigan, Preston and Carlisle, cutting journey times between Carlisle and Birmingham to one hour and 57 minutes (1.57) and Carlisle and London to two hours and 33 minutes (2.33).
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Our railways owe much to the Victorian engineers who pioneered them, but we cannot rest on their legacy when our railways face overcrowding and capacity problems.
“HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the Government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century; one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business.
“The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country and in particular will significantly improve connectivity between the Midlands and the North to boost economic growth.
“But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law.”
HS2 Ltd Phase 2b Development Director, Paul Griffiths said: “HS2 represents a once in a lifetime chance to rebalance the national economy, connecting the Scotland, the North, to the Midlands, and the South East. Our proposals have the potential to transform the economic prospects for the whole region for generations to come.”
“Today’s announcement are brings the regeneration benefits to Carlisle and Cumbria one step closer.”