Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

HS2 Is a Once in 100 Year Opportunity for Region ; Viewpoints

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

HS2 Is a Once in 100 Year Opportunity for Region ; Viewpoints

Article excerpt

RECENTLY in parliament, the HS2 Bill received its third reading, and was passed by a majority of 350 to 34.

This is an important step in the process of delivering one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK for decades. Strong connections are a prerequisite for successful places. The business case for the HS2 rail link sets out a robust assessment of the costs and benefits, and the cities of the north and Midlands are set to be major beneficiaries: 70 per cent of the jobs created through the economic impact of HS2 will be outside of London, and phase 2 of the route (from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester) could create employment for up to 70,000 workers. The updated benefit to cost ratio of the railway demonstrates that it will provide more than two pounds worth of benefits for every one pound spent, providing real value for money. HS2's primary benefits are driven by the additional rail capacity it will deliver, which will be essential in providing for sustainable, long-term regional growth. The resurgent growth in rail travel since the late 1990s was a key factor in the economic renaissance of our cities and towns, providing the new levels of access to skills that have been critical to attracting inward investment and supporting the diversification of our key employment sectors in Manchester and elsewhere. Nationally, the demand for long distance passenger rail travel in the UK has doubled to 125 million journeys a year in the past 15 years alone, the highest level since the post-war era, demonstrating the central role of our railways today. Since the first HS2 business plan was produced in 2010, notwithstanding the recession, rail usage has been growing far faster than forecast. The capacity assumptions that the current business case is based on is at 2 per cent growth, the reality is 4.9 per cent. If this trend continues, the West Coast Main Line (WCML), the route from London to Manchester, will be fuller far quicker than the current prediction of 2026. …

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