Today, the government unveiled the next phase of the £32 billion HS2 high speed rail link which will link Birmingham, Manchester, Toton in the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds.
High Speed 2 underlines the government’s absolute commitment to investing in the infrastructure that Britain needs to compete and succeed in the global economy.
It will help rebalance the economy by shrinking the distances between our cities, linking communities and businesses across the country. The project will also create tens of thousands of new jobs outside the London and South East. Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin said of HS2, “Politicians often talk about ‘rebalancing the economy’ and it can sometimes seem like an abstract term. But this is rebalancing in action.”
As well as easing overcrowding on the existing network, HS2 will also dramatically reduce journey times – the journey time from Manchester to London will be slashed by an hour to 1 hour and 8 minutes; a Birmingham to Leeds journey time will be halved from 2 hours to 57 minutes, and travel time from London to Birmingham will be reduced to just 49 minutes.
The first HS2 trains will start running from London to Birmingham in 13 years time, with the full route due for completion six years after that.
The Chancellor George Osborne said that HS2 would be “the engine for growth in the North and the Midlands”, whilst the Transport Secretary said he hoped the high-speed project would “become a national asset” which “has the potential to create jobs, wealth and opportunity in an abundance that will more than justify the investment to make it happen.”