A BUSINESS leader has repeated her call for the Government to route the new High Speed Two rail line through to Preston.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said ending the line at Manchester would leave vast parts of the North West feeling disconnected.
Her comments came after Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin promised that HS2 will go ahead as planned following the Conservative’s victory in the General Election.
In a keynote speech in Leeds, Mr McLoughlin said work on the connection between Birmingham and London would start in 2017, with the ‘Y network’ – the lines to Leeds and Manchester – following soon after.
But Babs, a leading campaigner for Lancashire and Cumbria to be included in HS2, said: “I would ask the Government to reconsider its decision to end the line at Manchester and bring it into Lancashire.
“We have waited a long time for developments on HS2 and while it is good news the Government plans to finally get going on it, it would be even better for Lancashire if the county was to benefit more directly.
“The North West of England does not stop at Manchester. Extending the line to Preston would provide a greater connectivity, not just to Lancashire, but to Cumbria, Scotland and the whole of the North West.”
HS2 will connect London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester and usher in a network of high speed trains “matching the very best in Europe,” says the Government. After that will come HS3, a high-speed line across the Pennines linking Liverpool with Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull. But that route will also miss out Preston.
Mr McLoughlin said the Government was investing £13bn in transport in the North to exploit “the best opportunity in well over a century to level the playing field between North and South.”
“Nothing is more important to this government than a healthy economy which benefits all working people.It means re-balancing our economy and building the Northern Powerhouse. We will not waste a moment getting on with the task. The general election result was a massive vote of confidence in favour of HS2. So the argument has been won. HS2 will be built, the full ‘Y’ network, from London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, with construction starting in just two years.
“HS2 will change the transport architecture of the north. But it will also change the economic architecture. And we are moving forward with plans for new high-speed rail links, running right across the north, from Liverpool to Hull. It will slash journey times, provide a substantial boost to capacity and help bind the north together as a single, powerful economic force.”