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22 July 2016

English and Scottish Council Leaders unite to press for HS2 Eastern Leg

A report published today by HS2 East highlights the economic importance to both England and Scotland of pressing ahead with the Eastern leg of HS2 – in full and to the fastest possible timescales.

The report shows how the proposed Eastern leg, which runs from Birmingham through the East Midlands and Sheffield to Leeds, could also boost economic growth in the North East of England and Scotland.

HS2 East: connecting potential, driving growth’ assesses the economic benefits that would result by using the eastern leg of HS2 as the basis for a high speed route to Scotland - connecting 15 million people, six major UK cities and an economy worth £320 billion.    

The report will be launched at an HS2 East event in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with key note speakers including Sir David Higgins, executive chairman of HS2 Ltd.

Sir David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, said:

"HS2 will transform journey times - and therefore connectivity - not just to London, but also between our towns, cities and regions.  

“To make the most of that it is vital that the Eastern leg as a whole works together to maximise the return at both a local and a national level, and to do so now as the government prepares to finalise the route in the autumn.  That HS2 East will do."

Cllr Jon Collins, co-chair of HS2 East, said:

“The eastern leg of HS2 has the potential to improve connectivity to the cities of the north east of England and bring Scotland and England closer together.

“It could become the ‘golden thread’ that unifies the economies of the great towns and cities of the Midlands, the north of England and Scotland.

“An eastern route to Scotland reaches more people and bigger economies than the alternatives, so the economic benefits will be greater.”

Cllr Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council and transport lead for the North East Combined Authority, said:

“For Newcastle, as for so much of the UK, HS2 is more than just a new line. It’s an economic development project for the nation, and one which has the potential to be transformational to businesses in this city and across the North East. 

“HS2 will, for example, help realise the real potential of Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter, the place where the first steam engines were built. There we are creating one of the best connected and most competitive locations in the North East, with the potential to add £540m to our economic strength through the creation of more and better jobs.

“The benefits of High Speed rail will be felt across the region, which once led the world in the creation of railways and will again benefit hugely from this modern day equivalent. Better connections between our major cities, as well as upgrading the East Coast Main Line, will not only improve journey times but transform the way people seek job opportunities and career progression. It will therefore be a huge boost to business confidence and help retain and attract talented people to live and work here.”

HS2 East represents the cities, towns and regions along the eastern leg of the HS2 route, currently linking Birmingham to Leeds. Their latest report reiterates the strong economic case for this leg, which would be strengthened with the continuation of the route up to the north east and Scotland.

With a link to the north east and Scotland, HS2 East would:

  • link six of the UK’s 10 biggest city regions;
  • connect economies already worth over £320bn and contributing around 20% of UK GDP;
  • serve a population of 15 million people – equivalent to Ireland and Portugal combined; and
  • see rail journey times between cities dramatically reduced.

The report states that connecting high speed services to Scotland via an upgraded East Coast Main Line will bring a substantial total economic uplift of £717m to the UK economy annually, with £500m of this benefit generated outside London.

Full delivery of the eastern leg with this link would also help to free up capacity across the network, benefiting regional rail connectivity and boosting the economies of communities on and off the route.

English and Scottish council leaders unite to press for HS2 eastern leg July 2016

ENDS

‘HS2 East: connecting potential, driving growth’ report is available on www.HS2east.co.uk from 11am on Friday 22 July 2016

For further information contact Andrew Pritchard at East Midlands Councils - Telephone 01664 502620

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