Responding to the announcement by Chancellor George Osborne that a third High Speed Rail line should be constructed to better connect Leeds Manchester, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box said, "With an economy larger than seven EU countries, West Yorkshire and the Leeds City Region already has the potential to be an economic powerhouse but we have been pressing for improvements to connectivity across the north of England to build upon that foundation and welcome the Chancellor's statement in that context.
Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said, “Throughout the High Speed Rail debate, we have stressed the importance of connecting our Northern cities, so I am delighted the government has recognised the immense potential our region has to become an economic powerhouse of the North, that can compete for the UK globally alongside London and the South East”.
“Connectivity is the lynchpin of our Strategic Economic Plan, so if the government invests in the region now to create the 21st Century infrastructure our economy needs to unleash untapped growth, we can play a leading role in rebalancing the nation and enabling the Leeds City Region to create tens of thousands of jobs while also becoming a net contributor to the public purse.
“I would welcome a further conversation with the Chancellor to maximise this opportunity for the Leeds City Region – and indeed the country.“
Commenting on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's comments that he would he hopes to "apply a bit of pressure" on George Osborne to approve the £1.6bn West Yorkshire and York Transport Fund Cllr Box said, "Complementing HS2 by developing an east-west HS3 route connecting major cities across the north would drive economic growth, but we also need to see the types of improvements that our planned £1.6bn WY and York Transport Fund will deliver.
“I was pleased, therefore to hear that Nick Clegg has today backed the WY and York Transport Fund and would welcome any ‘pressure’ he can apply to George Osborne to get the Fund approved and enable us to get on with transport initiatives that will deliver 20,000 new jobs and almost £2.4bn of additional output per year by the mid-2030s.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair, Cllr James Lewis said, "Being better connected would enable our Region and the north as a whole to deliver even greater benefits to the UK economy and I hope any plans formulated for a high-speed link will show how key centres right across the trans-Pennine corridor and not just the major cities will benefit.
"We have long been calling for improvements to east-west routes across North and I am pleased that the electrification of the Trans-Pennine route is now in the pipeline. However in starting to talk about HS3, we must not lose sight of other important ambitions such as the electrification of the Caldervale Line and other improvements that would provide centres like Bradford, Halifax and Wakefield with much improved connections to Leeds, Manchester and beyond."
Read the Chancellor's speech (opens in new window).