Good timing - ITC underlines importance of HS2 in the North

A new report from the Independent Transport Commission sets out how the benefits of High Speed 2 (HS2) can be captured by the city regions it will serve.

The report comes amidst reports that the second phase of the high speed line to Manchester and Leeds is being scrutinized by government for budget savings including potentially cutting stations that could harm growth in the North.

Writing in the foreword, ITC Patron Lord Adonis says: “There is no reason why our great cities in Britain cannot enjoy the same benefits from HSR that cities in other countries around the world have enjoyed. As the transport infrastructure begins to be built, I recommend that our great cities and their citizens use this ITC report to help plan for the arrival of HS2, ensuring that this major investment better enables our cities to compete on a global stage to the benefit of all.”

 The report sets out a series of initiatives it recommends to Government. They include:

. An independent review of the initial lessons learnt from HS2 Phase 1, in order to apply these to the planning for Phase 2 of the project.

. The creation of an HS2 Cities Forum, owned and managed by local stakeholders, both public and private sector to support collaboration and share knowledge about planning for HS2’s arrival. 

. And a collaborative programme to understand the future of the UK’s urban economy, particularly investigating how the relationships between the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, the ‘Midlands Engine’, and London will develop over the next 50 years.

The report was welcomed by the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who said: “HS2 is a catalyst for revitalising and regenerating our cities. I’m pleased the report reinforces the message that HS2 will not just improve transport and not just speed up journeys – it will also improve capacity too. In 1992, 750 million people a year used our railways. Last year 1.7 billion people used our railways. Capacity on some of our networks is saturated. When people call for more local services, they don’t seem to appreciate that once built, HS2 will give us that capacity.”

McLoughlin added: “I welcome the emphasis it puts on close engagement and collaboration, the importance of improving transport connectivity around HS2 stations, and the need to be responsive to change. And I echo the advice that cities with HS2 stations need to show leadership, so each of them grasps the unprecedented opportunities that this extraordinary project offers.

“Although we’re late joining the high speed club, we do have one very important advantage: we can learn from the experience of others… and can make HS2 the very best high speed railway in the world.”