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High-speed rail link for north welcomed

FULL SPEED: Chancellor George Osborne was in Manchester yesterday making the case for HS2 but Babs Murphy, inset, demanded more thought be given to linking core cities in the North

FULL SPEED: Chancellor George Osborne was in Manchester yesterday making the case for HS2 but Babs Murphy, inset, demanded more thought be given to linking core cities in the North

But don’t forget about Preston, Chancellor Osborne is urged.

Business leaders and industry experts have welcomed Chancellor George Osborne’s calls for a high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds.

But they urged him to consider including Preston in the high-speed link to ensure his vision of an economic “powerhouse” in the north comes to fruition.

The Chancellor indicated yesterday that an upgraded, high-speed link between Manchester and Leeds should be considered as part of the review of the second phase of the HS2 project.

Jeremy Acklam, from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “We need to think long and hard about the cities we include in the proposed HS3 linking Manchester and Leeds.

“Examples could include Liverpool via Warrington and Preston via Bolton in the west, which will also allow high speed services to run from London to Liverpool and London t​​o Preston.”

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Businesses have seen many proposals for better links between Northern cities over the years.

“The prospect of a high-speed east-west rail link across the North is a good start if it materialises, but we would like to see more thought given towards connecting all the core cities in the north, not just Manchester and Leeds.”

Concerns about connectivity between northern cities were raised in the report by HS2 Ltd’s chairman Sir David Higgins in March.

Simon Allport, North West Senior Partner at EY in the North West, said: “The chancellor has added more momentum behind the view that for a recovery for the whole of the country to happen, rebalancing growth in favour of the UK regions is critical.

“Empowering a North of England, where cities are more closely linked and can sell a broader suite of benefits to potential investors, could be a good place to start in this rebalancing.”

Mr Osborne said the “powerhouse” would bring together Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, and Hull, that were physically quite close to each other, but did not have the transport links.

He said they did not co-operate like a global city like London.

 

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