Cllr Nick Forbes, Core Cities UK Cabinet Member for Transport and Leader of Newcastle City Council
This week a vital piece of legislation concerning the HS2 project is due before the Commons, when MPs debate a bill to construct the piece of the line running from Birmingham to Crewe.
This is a good time to re-state Core Cities' belief that High Speed Rail is a much needed and significant investment in the UK rail network that we believe is worth every penny and will pay for itself many times over. HS2 is the biggest improvement to our rail network since Victorian times and will create a modern high speed system similar to that found in many of our European and global competitor nations.
But the term ‘high speed’ does not correctly reflect the bigger outcomes to the national economy. Shorter journey times are essential to improved productivity, but the scheme will also free up much-needed capacity on the existing rail network, support the integration of vastly improved local transport and regenerate wider areas around station hubs.
And there is no reason why HS2 should be the end of the story. We believe in a national approach to high speed rail. Projects like HS2 bring the benefits of agglomeration by linking communities together. It cannot be right that many of our great cities are served by slow and outdated rail links that are frequently subject to delays and cancellations.
We believe HS2 has the potential to reshape the economic geography of the country, helping cities away from the South East to reach their full economic potential. This is not simply a domestic issue of rebalancing the economy, but an issue of global competitiveness, enabling our cities to compete more effectively.
We have already pledged to work with Government to align local transport investment within urban areas, to improve links to and from HS2 hubs - enhancing commuting capacity within the travel to work area and on the existing rail networks. In the meantime, Government should continue to invest in our existing rail infrastructure making sure we have a network that enhances our cities economies and leads to more jobs and more inclusive growth.