Wednesday, October 5, 2016

News: Chambers want reassurances on HS2 reaching regions

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Chambers of Commerce have joined together to call on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, to confirm his Government's commitment to the Eastern Leg of HS2.

Given a funding envelope of £55.7 billion in 2015 prices, the new North-South high speed train link should reach Birmingham in 2026 and Manchester and Leeds by 2033.

On the Eastern Leg of the Y network, the South Yorkshire HS2 station location was initially chosen as Meadowhall but a new option announced in July proposes that HS2 services between London and Sheffield would take a spur off the high speed line and travel directly to the existing Sheffield Midland station using the existing railway line.

A city centre station solution for Sheffield high speed services would allow the main HS2 line to be built east of the previously proposed route, following the M1 and M18 through Rotherham before heading through the Dearne Valley.

Five chambers, including Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, have called for speedy confirmation and delivery of the rail link between Birmingham and Leeds, via Sheffield and the East Midlands, and then north to Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The Secretary of State for Transport is considering David Higgins' July report in detail and will make an announcement on the full HS2 Phase 2 route later this year.

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In a joint letter, the chief executives of five Chambers, said: "There are compelling economic reasons for improving connectivity between businesses in these key cities and regions.

"Research undertaken by KPMG in 2013 suggested that HS2 would deliver an additional £4.1bn of GDP output for the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire."

The letter describes progress on HS2 Eastern Leg as "a key tenet" of a "vision for a successful UK outside of the European Union."

It said: "The areas along the route are home to some of the UK's most dynamic and innovative firms, operating successfully in regional, national and international markets.

"These businesses are already growing. Improving linkages will unlock further growth, allowing them to exploit the benefits of agglomeration and help forge an economy that is balanced both in terms of geography and sector.

"Moreover, the increased productivity and competitiveness facilitated by HS2 Eastern Leg will not just bolster growth locally but will also support long-term international success against competitors in other countries that already benefit from high speed rail.

"The business community is fully committed to grasping the opportunities that HS2's Eastern Leg will bring. Plans are already being developed to increase connectivity within the regions in order to maximise the economic benefit of HS2 and to ensure it can be felt beyond the urban centres."

The five Chambers which were signatory to the letter were East Midlands Chamber, North East England, Leeds, Sheffield and Barnsley & Rotherham.

Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber website

Images: HS2 Ltd


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