The prime minister and the chancellor have given their backing to a new rail link connecting Manchester and Leeds
Plans for a high speed link across the Pennines, dubbed ‘High Speed 3’, are set to be developed after the government announced it was backing proposals put forward in a report by HS2 chairman David Higgins.
The route forms part of chancellor George Osborne’s vision to create a ‘northern powerhouse’ extending economic growth beyond London and the South East.
Higgins said the new route could be as important to the north as Crossrail is for London.
The high speed line could reduce journey times between Leeds and Manchester in half – from around 55 minutes to just 26 minutes.
His report also suggests that the journeys between Leeds and Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield Meadowhall, York and Birmingham, and Nottingham to Birmingham could also be reduced by a half.
The options put forward for the HS3 route include a new tunnelled route beneath the Pennines or a route using existing unused tunnels.
Prime minister David Cameron said: ‘Improving connectivity and reducing journey times between our great northern cities is a crucial part of our long term economic plan for the north to boost businesses and create more jobs and security for hardworking people. That’s why we are backing HS3.’
David Higgins, added: ‘Knowledge based companies whether they are in high-tech manufacturing, the creative industries, finance or the law, have to be close, or feel close to the talent, skills base, support network, knowledge pools, collaborators and clients necessary to create the “hot-house atmosphere” in which they thrive. That is why reducing the journey times between and within our cities isn’t just desirable for both passengers and freight. It is a strategic necessity.’
The government also backed plans for a new transport body similar to Transport for London to be set up. Transport for the North will cover the five city regions – Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull and will act as a unified voice for making big decisions on transport issues.
Further details are set to be presented to government in March 2015.
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