The Department for Transport is currently consulting on plans for the expansion of high speed rail in the UK. I and your Labour Council are passionate supporters of the YesToHS2 campaign to bring high speed rail to Manchester. Please see below for my response to the consultation. You can view the consultation online and respond here. Please note that the closing date is Friday 29th July.
High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future – Consultation
Dear Secretary of State,
I am responding to the above consultation to state my support for High Speed 2 as part of a longer term plan for a national High Speed Rail network.
I see HSR as absolutely critical to the future prosperity not only of our city, but the surrounding towns and cities and indeed the nation.
Cities and the businesses within them drive national economic growth. We are competing within an open global economy against countries whose cities have:
• greater local control over investment decisions;
• far better local transport infrastructure; and
• well developed HSR networks.
If the UK wants to remain a competitive place to do business, it must invest in its infrastructure and think big about the future of our economy. This is a one-off opportunity to generate long term private sector growth and jobs across the whole of the UK, not just the South East, rebalancing the economy and allowing businesses to thrive in and around other urban centres. Government should focus on the national interest of business and how it can create more employment across the country, rather than the protests raised from one small geographic area which is already well connected.
I view HSR as a central component of a coherent national rail strategy, which will release capacity, rebalance the economy and support growth in important economic sectors, which would otherwise be constrained through a lack of connectivity. This means that investment in local transport infrastructure should continue alongside that for HSR. There is no ‘either or’ investment scenario; HSR itself relies on better local transport infrastructure to maximise the economic benefit.
I have looked at the available evidence and believe that there is a very strong economic and environmental case for HS2 and HSR. A national HSR system is currently (perhaps conservatively) estimated to:
• directly create 30-40,000 jobs and support up to a million more ;
• reshape and rebalance the economic geography of Britain, closing the gap between the South East and the rest of the country;
• deliver £125 billion of economic benefits over 60 years (£111 billion direct benefits, £14 billion wider economic impacts);
• cut carbon by 1 million tonnes a year and safeguard the environment ; and
• allow Britain’s economic infrastructure to compete with the rest of the world for business.
Cities will drive Britain’s economic recovery, but need to have the infrastructure to be able to do so, including good connectivity to reach their markets. For major business to prosper it needs speedy, reliable access to other cities, London and international gateways. Businesses serving the local economy need access to more broadly focused companies in other cities if they too are to prosper. Business location and expansion decisions are based on a long term view; there is value to business in knowing that there is an agreed plan for the future, and this is highly likely to influence investment decisions by global companies prior to HSR completion.
Therefore, as well as supporting HS2, I would welcome a commitment, in relevant legislation and policy, to delivering the full HSR network.
I say Yes to High Speed 2.
Councillor Kevin Peel
Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Manchester City Centre