Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Business Bosses Slam 'Vocal Minority' Trying to Derail HS2 Project ; Report Says Cost of High Speed Rail Link Will Double but Local Supporters Say It Will Boost Economy

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Business Bosses Slam 'Vocal Minority' Trying to Derail HS2 Project ; Report Says Cost of High Speed Rail Link Will Double but Local Supporters Say It Will Boost Economy

Article excerpt

BUSINESS leaders in Manchester have fought back over a think tank report saying the High Speed 2 rail project should be scrapped.

In a report, the Institute for Economic Affairs states the scheme - which would provide a 250mph rail link between Manchester and London - 'defies economic logic'.

It suggests costs for the project would spiral to around double the predicted Pounds 40bn because of changes to the route, added infrastructure costs and compensation payouts.

Susan Williams, chair of the North West Rail Campaign, said despite a 'vocal minority' attempting to derail the project she believes the scheme would provide a huge boost to the local and national economy.

She said: "These are a series of claims and figures without any evidence to back them up and because of that I think they should be dismissed outright.

"The economic benefits have been very carefully researched and spelled out in terms of the 40,000 jobs this will create and increased freight capacity. It is frustrating that this report does not do the same.

"I was very disappointed by the comment that this was all a ploy to buy the votes of the north.

"I don't feel there's a northsouth divide over the scheme but there does seem to be a small, very vocal minority coming from certain parts of the country.

Emma Antrobus, policy manager at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said the rail link would provide a much-needed boost to the region's economy.

She said: "We're supportive of HS2 because it's about connecting cities much better and it's about providing a 21st century railway. "We've not built a north-south railway in over 100 years in this country and we're lagging behind other countries."

Under current proposals, the high-speed line to Birmingham would be open by 2026 with two further lines to Leeds and Manchester open by 2032. …

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