High speed rail is vital for economic success

Published 28th January 2013 at 9:00am

Today, the Sheffield City Region welcomed the Government’s plans for a new high speed rail network which will crucially include a rail station to the Sheffield City Region.

This important decision underlines the Sheffield City Region place at the heart of the Government’s longer term economic growth plans. The economic gains of this high speed rail decision are so far in the future that it will be my grandchildren’s generation that really see the benefits.

I recently joined business leaders from across the UK in writing to the national press ahead of the Government’s high speed rail announcement. Our letter expressed how the Government’s preferred route for the second phase of high speed rail (the network beyond Birmingham, to Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds) will benefit local businesses.

Here is an extract from the letter, which sums up why high speed rail is so vital for our long term economic success:

“The UK’s failure to develop a modern, efficient transport infrastructure in recent decades is holding back our economic recovery.

While all our major competitors on the Continent enjoy fast, frequent, reliable inter-city rail connections, the UK still depends on an inefficient and overcrowded railway that was built for the Victorians, not for the 21st century.

That is why we need High Speed 2: linking our biggest and most productive cities; providing a substantial and much-needed increase in capacity; cutting journey times; and helping to take freight off our roads.

Vitally, it would bring cities in the North and Midlands closer together. As business leaders, we would welcome a more competitive and better connected country to create jobs and boost national growth.

But HS2 would also send out a message to global investors that the UK is on their side. If we want to attract the world’s biggest and best companies to this country, we need to offer excellent access to labour, suppliers and markets.

Investment in transport is therefore a pre-requisite for attracting investment from abroad. Yet between 2000 and 2007, the UK was the lowest infrastructure investor of all the OECD countries.

We therefore support the Government’s plans for HS2. And we urge them to deliver the new network as soon as possible.”


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