‘High-speed link vital for Yorkshire economy’

Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond. PIC: PA
Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond. PIC: PA
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THE campaign to bring high-speed rail to Yorkshire was launched as a Commons Select Committee opened an inquiry into the Government project.

Leaders of the campaign say Yorkshire stands to win over £2bn in economic benefits from the proposed national network of 200mph trains, known as ‘HS2’, which will cut the journey time from Leeds to London to 80 minutes.

The initial Commons inquiry started yesterday and covers the first part of the proposed high-speed line between London and Birmingham.

Backing the campaign in Yorkshire are organisations representing thousands of local businesses, and local authorities who believe the high-speed link will bring a new era of economic expansion to the region.

Transport body Metro, the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Leeds City Council and other bodies are urging businesses and residents across the region to show support.

Gary Williamson, Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “High-speed rail will bring huge benefits for our region. If the first stage gets the go-ahead, it will influence investment decisions by business for years to come, helping to create new local jobs and secure existing ones.”

Next Tuesday, the ‘Yes to High Speed Rail’ campaign bus will be calling in at Millennium Square in Leeds city centre to support the campaign.

Campaigners say the high-speed line will:

* Provide much-needed extra capacity for Britain’s and Yorkshire’s congested rail network.

* Take over main line journeys, long-distance journeys, local services and freight, freeing timetables for better services between Leeds and centres such as Wakefield, Sheffield and Doncaster.

* Reduce lorry transport on roads.

* Improve the region’s competitiveness and productivity.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Leeds is a city that is going places and we need high-speed rail to improve access to the area as it develops further as a major hub for business, leisure, investment and jobs.

“High speed rail will transform rail journeys from Leeds and many other northern cities, providing travel opportunities and choices that we won’t otherwise have.”