Responding to the announcement that, David Cameron and George Osborne have given their approval to a high-speed rail link between Leeds and Manchester, dubbed HS3, the Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority Councillor Peter Box today said,
“By ensuring its benefits have an impact across all our communities an HS3 line linking between Leeds City Region, the largest outside London, Manchester and other cities, will transform the north and its economy and will help counter the current situation where less than 0.5% of commuters into Manchester come from Leeds and vice versa because the daily commute is too slow or inconvenient.”
In his response to the announcement, Leader of Leeds City Council and WYCA member Councillor Keith Wakefield said, “We know a 20-minute reduction in journey times between Leeds and Manchester would be worth £6.7billion and nearly 30,000 jobs across the whole of the north of England, so we welcome this announcement in response to Sir David Higgins’ recommendation. By shrinking distances between the two largest city region economies outside London, businesses, homeowners, investors and graduates would all benefit from the enhanced opportunities of a bigger jobs and housing market. It will be important to see early action to make good on the commitments made today.
“We also welcome the response to the calls, as advocated in the One North proposal, for an integrated transport strategy which together with the new influential body speaking for the wider region will help to connect people, businesses, jobs and places across the north."
More details for HS3, which would see the journeys between Manchester and Leeds cut from the current 48 to just 26 minutes, will be published in a report next March. The Prime Minister and Chancellor plan to create a new body, ‘Transport for the North’ made up of the North’s city regions to develop the scheme including costs and timescales.
Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chairman and WYCA member Roger Marsh said, “We are committed to working with partners across the country to ensure our formidable set of economic assets are matched with a high performing transport network such as the proposals set out for HS3.”
“Connectivity is the lynchpin of our Economic Plan and this further investment to connect the north is great news for the Leeds City Region. We will work with our public and private sector partners to secure complementary investment in our current infrastructure, further developing a fully integrated transport strategy, to ensure that lasting benefits are felt by all.”
Commenting on HS2 Chairman Sir David Higgins’ report ‘Rebalancing Britain: from HS2 towards a national transport strategy’, also published today, Cllr Box said, “Making sure West Yorkshire and the Leeds City region get the best value-for money out of high-speed rail links by developing a comprehensive, ‘HS2-ready’ local transport network is key to our future plans and part of our devolution proposals.
“We want to see a position where someone can travel quickly and seamlessly from any of the main transport hubs across West Yorkshire and London, using HS2, which, our research has shown, will deliver an additional £1bn per year to West Yorkshire’s and over 13,000 new jobs across the City Region if fully integrated into a wider transport strategy.”
In his report, Sir David Higgins:
- reaffirms the importance of phase two of the project, a ‘Y’ branch from Leeds and Manchester to Birmingham, as essential;
- endorses the ‘One North’ transport proposal including major improvements to east-west travel infrastructure and a possible additional high-speed rail line between Leeds and Manchester;
- says there needs to be a focus on improving rail journeys between Leeds and Manchester to significantly cut journey times;
- calls for reconsideration on remodelling the existing Leeds Rail Station, to provide a new single integrated station hosting HS2, possible new east-west services and local services;
- reiterates HS2 needs to be part of a new fully integrated national transport strategy;
- describes HS2 as being key to helping rebalance the national economy away from the focus on London and the south-east.
You can download Sir David Higgins' report 'Rebalancing Britain: From HS2 towards a national transport strategy' here (opens in new window).