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HS3 northern rail link set for green light

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Chancellor George Osborne is set to give the green light to a new Northern high-speed rail link as part of his budget announcements tomorrow

It is understood that Osborne will reveal his backing for the link - part of his plans to create a new ‘northern powerhouse’ stretching across the Pennines - when he gives his budget speech on Wednesday (18 March). He is expected to release a document giving further details of the plans is released later in the week.

High Speed 3 (HS3) is set to link Leeds and Manchester but according to reports further recommendations may be made which could see its reach extended to other Northern cities.

The £7 billion high speed line could reduce journey times between Leeds and Manchester in half – from around 55 minutes to just 26 minutes.

In an initial report, released last year, HS2 chairman David Higgins suggested that 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.

The plans were originally announced by the chancellor last year, as part of proposals to create a ‘northern powerhouse’ extending economic growth beyond London and the South East, but the vision wasn’t new – in 2004 architect Will Alsop had revealed plans for a northern super-city.

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