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Cameron firm on HS2, Northern Powerhouse

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Patrick McLoughlin with Cameron and Sir Albert Bore

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said the general election result was a massive vote of confidence in favour of HS2. The government will “not waste a moment” on working with regional leaders to create a Northern Powerhouse of jobs, prosperity, bright futures and closing the gap between south and north…reports Asian Lite, Best newspaper for British Asians

Sir Albert Bore, Core Cities leaders and Prime Minister David Cameron and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin pose with a petition launched by the cities pressing for HS2 to go ahead - File pic
Sir Albert Bore, Core Cities leaders and Prime Minister David Cameron and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin pose with a petition launched by the cities pressing for HS2 to go ahead – File pic

The Cameron government is committed to create a Northern Powerhouse and  will forge ahead with the multi-billion High Speed rail project linking Manchester to London besides connecting Leeds and Sheffield.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said the general election result was a massive vote of confidence in favour of HS2. The government will “not waste a moment” on working with regional leaders to create a Northern Powerhouse of jobs, prosperity, bright futures and closing the gap between south and north.

He said HS2 will be built, “…the full Y network from London to Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.”

In a signal of intent, the Transport Secretary said “nothing is more important” than growth and infrastructure and confirms the government is moving forward with plans for east-west high-speed rail links and will invest £13 billion in transforming northern transport this Parliament. Helping to end the decades old economic gap between north and south through billions of pounds of transport investment is a top priority for the government.”

“We are a One Nation government that will bring our country together. That means ensuring this recovery reaches all parts of our country: from north to south, from east to west.”

In a keynote speech at  Leeds Civic Hall, he said that boosting growth in the north, rebalancing the economy and creating a Northern Powerhouse were a vital part of the long-term economic plan.

James Wharton, minister responsible for Northern Powerhouse within the Department for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Jones, Northern Powerhouse minister at DfT, and Sir David Higgins and Simon Kirby from HS2 Ltd, were present.

The Transport Secretary said the election result was a massive vote of confidence in favour of High Speed 2 (HS2) and confirmed construction is on track to start in 2017. Work is also well underway on developing plans for high-speed east-west rail links.

Patrick McLoughlin with Queen during the  opening of the redeveloped Reading rail station.  (File)
Patrick McLoughlin with Queen during the opening of the redeveloped Reading rail station. (File)

He confirmed that £13 billion government funding would be invested to transform transport infrastructure in the north over the next five years – better connecting up the region so that northern towns and cities can pool their strengths and create a single economy, helping Britain better compete on the world stage.

And he pledged that the north will be empowered to shape its own future – by devolving power away from Whitehall. He said that by the autumn, Transport for the North (TfN) – the body established by the government to work with it on delivering a Northern Transport Strategy – will have a new independent chair to speak on behalf of the north with one voice on delivering improved train and bus services, rolling out smart ticketing, looking after passengers, reducing road congestion and speeding up links to ports and airports.

The Transport Secretary confirmed that legislation would be prepared in this Parliament, looking at bringing HS2 to Crewe faster than planned, subject to further analysis and decisions on the preferred route.

Work will also continue to look at ways of using the HS2 line to introduce faster regional services and at the case for speeding up construction of the Sheffield to Leeds section.

Building on the concept of High Speed 3 (HS3), the government will also progress plans to transform east to west rail connectivity with high-speed services linking Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull, radically reducing travel times, increasing frequencies and improving the customer experience.