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Thursday, May 23, 2019

HS2: Midlands business leaders criticise Lords report for ignoring ‘Midlands Engine’

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Midlands Connect, which promotes transport investment in the region and supports HS2, has strongly criticised today’s report, which doesn’t mention Toton or the Midlands once in the 50 pages.

It said the report completely ignores the Midlands and the benefits the line would bring to the area.

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The controversial train line runs from London to Birmingham before splitting.

The western leg goes towards Manchester, while the Eastern leg goes through Nottinghamshire – stopping at Toton – before heading to Sheffield and Leeds.

Supporters say it will bring huge economic benefit to the region, reduce journey times, and create thousands of jobs.

Sir John Peace, chairman of Midlands Connect and the Midlands Engine, said: “For the Midlands Engine to be completely ignored by a House of Lords report is just unbelievably disappointing. I was never approached to input into this report.

“Phases One and Two of HS2, combined with the Midlands Rail Hub and Northern Powerhouse Rail will revolutionise the capacity and connectivity of our transport network. We need all of them, as soon as possible.

“If we start favouring one over the other, we risk delaying them all and undermining our economy at a time when we need to be working together more, not less.

“The Midlands’ universities, automotive, advanced manufacturing and professional services businesses have so much more to offer the national economy, if only they’re given the connections they need to access talent, clients and markets both at home and abroad.

An HS2 Ltd spokeswoman said: “We thank the Lords Economic Affairs Committee for its interest in Britain’s new high-speed railway and will consider their recommendations as the project progresses.

“HS2 will generate around £92 billion in benefits to the UK economy, with local economic plans forecasting the creation of 500,000 jobs and nearly 90,000 new homes. Work is underway at over 250 locations and the scheme already supports more than 7,000 jobs directly and across our supply chain.

“As stated in the report, HS2 is fundamental to the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail. It is also vital to the Midlands Rail Hub and will transform rail journeys across the Midlands and North, giving passengers thousands of extra seats every day, and taking freight off the roads.

“As regional leaders across the Midlands and North have repeatedly said, it’s not a case of either or, it’s both.

“We are determined to deliver a railway that is value for money for the taxpayer and a project that will reshape the economic geography of the country.

“We have strengthened our controls and are actively applying lessons learnt from recent infrastructure projects to ensure we have the most cost-effective approach.”

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HS2: House of Lords report ‘far from convinced that HS2 will be built within the £55.7 billion budget

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