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Business community ‘indifferent’ to HS2

OUT OF LINE: A HS2 type train undergoing trials. North West business people are not convinced about the benefits to Lancashire of a HS2 rail link between Manchester and London, a survey says

OUT OF LINE: A HS2 type train undergoing trials. North West business people are not convinced about the benefits to Lancashire of a HS2 rail link between Manchester and London, a survey says

Business people are not convinced about the benefits to Lancashire of a HS2 rail link between Manchester and London, a survey has shown.

A poll conducted by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce shows that under half of businesses – 42 per cent – are in favour of the Government’s proposals for HS2.

But the Chamber notes that 58 per cent are “either not in favour or feel indifferent about the scheme.”

A Chamber spokesman said: “This could be a reflection on the fact that the proposed route doesn’t reach Lancashire and therefore there is little perceived benefit for people in the county.

“Nevertheless, there is significant support from businesses for investment in high speed rail in the hope that it will have a wider impact on the region’s economy.”

Construction on the London-West Midlands phase is expected to begin around 2017 and open in 2026.

This estimate relies on Parliament approving the necessary powers in 2015.

Supporters of HS2 argue that the scheme is essential in order to resolve future capacity issues on the West Coast main line, as well as improve links between the north and south of the country.

They also point out that the scheme will boost the economy and provide much needed jobs during the construction phase.

Opponents say that the economic case is unproven, that there will be considerable environmental impact and the money could be better spent on improving existing transport infrastructure.

Hundreds of chamber members were asked for their views, with 42 per cent in favour, 32 per cent against and 26 per cent indifferent to HS2.

A spokesman said: “While there is support for HS2, there is also a strong view that the £42 bn project costs should be invested in other transport schemes that could deliver more immediate benefits for the region.”

Some respondents cited overcrowding of local train services and said the money would be better spent on solving that problem and other transport issues that would directly benefit Lancashire.

The research was carried out as part of the Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey.

 

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