Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Just Get Us on Track; Fast Trains Could Bring Pounds 3.5bn to Region

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Just Get Us on Track; Fast Trains Could Bring Pounds 3.5bn to Region

Article excerpt

Byline: By Adrian Pearson

HIGH speed rail links dismissed by the Government as "too costly" could boost the North-East economy by pounds 3.5bn, it was claimed yesterday.

The Northern Way, set up to improve the Northern economy, is calling for investment into a high speed rail network which could reduce the Newcastle to London journey time to under two hours.

The Government has previously insisted the benefits of creating a new rail link would be outweighed by the costs.

But research by the quango suggests improved transport links are essential if the North ever wants to match the South's economy.

The Northern Way revealed yesterday that a high speed network would add pounds 10bn to the UK's economy over 60 years, pounds 3.5bn of that in the North-East.

Professor David Begg, chair of the Northern Way's transport compact, said the benefits to the economy would come not just from better North to South connections but from quicker trans-Pennine routes.

He added: "We think there is a sense of urgency with this.

We are arguing for high speed rail links not just to boost the economy and provide shorter journey times, but to also reduce the chronic congestion on the network.

"Within seven years the overcrowding on the East Coast Line will be acute and we have to start work now to avoid that.

"We haven't tied ourselves to any particular technology, we are keeping the options for high speed open, be it improvements on the infrastructure or maglev or whatever." Mike Parker, spokesman for the North-East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) welcomed the Northern Way's research, and warned that any future high speed rail link must include the North-East or risk slowing down the economy.

He said: "We really see the value that it would bring to the North-East and it is imperative that should any development be made the rail link has got to link communities in the East coast of England.

"We would be right behind any efforts to secure high speed rail links for the North-East. …

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