Andrew Mitchell MP has joined forces with MPs across the House of Commons and has issued a cross party call urging the Prime Minister to support HS2.
The letter emphasises the benefits of HS2 for increasing capacity on lines between Birmingham, Derby, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and wider Northern towns and cities.
The North and Midlands have received considerably less funding than the South East of England for transport infrastructure in recent decades and local commuters have had to endure heavily congested unreliable trains.
The letter urges the Prime Minister to consider the benefits of HS2 to help re-balance the economy and to create new jobs and drive economic growth to help transform the region.
Andrew Mitchell said: “We need to end the uncertainty around HS2 as soon as possible and commit to the rapid completion of the Birmingham-London section of the project.
I fully support HS2 as a way of increasing capacity on our rail network and better connecting our major cities. The project will generate jobs and promote economic growth.
I am very pleased to sign a cross-party letter to the Prime Minister highlighting the key benefits of HS2 for our region and urging a swift completion of the project.”
The full text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Prime Minister,
We welcome your clear and historic commitment to ‘level up’ the country, not least by addressing the historic underinvestment in the North and Midlands. We understand that the draft Oakervee Report into HS2 concludes that Europe’s biggest infrastructure project should proceed but we are very concerned that it also recommends that work on Phase 2 of the project, from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, be paused for six months to consider whether these new sections of line might instead be delivered via a mix of conventional and high-speed track.
As the HS2 North Report, published by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership in October 2019 articulates, HS2 is not simply a means of getting to London more quickly. It is vitally-important to increase capacity on lines in and out of the capital, but also between Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle, York and wider Northern towns and cities as well as other major regional economic centres such as Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. For instance, from Birmingham it currently takes just under two hours to get to Leeds and almost an hour and a half to Manchester. This would be reduced to 49 minutes and 40 minutes respectively. A super-connected North or Midlands is not as powerful unless it is super-connected to the rest of UK.
Nowhere is the need to level up many of our constituencies felt more acutely, day-in-day-out, than on our train network. The North and Midlands has not seen any major investment in new, purpose-built infrastructure to connect our towns and cities since the Victorian era. Our constituents now have to endure heavily-congested trains which are far too often cancelled or significantly delayed. This is a major barrier to business growth and restricts the opportunities available to our businesses after leaving the European Union.
The UK must demonstrate its ability to ‘Get Projects Done’. Many of our national counterparts, Germany, Japan and France, are continuing to invest in low-carbon, high-connectivity modern rail schemes to tackle climate change and to meet increasing demand. We must do the same.
In the coming days, the independent Oakervee review will formally propose a way forward for HS2. We welcome the commitment you made in the first few days of your premiership to the first part of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), linking Leeds and Manchester. We call on you to announce the confirm the full delivery of NPR from East Coast to West Coast and to the second phases of HS2. These projects are vital to the future prosperity of the Northern Powerhouse, and have the potential to transform this country, as does the Midlands Rail Hub as supported by West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street.
It has been suggested we should choose between these projects, but businesses large and small right across the North and Midlands would see this as betrayal. After decades of under-investment, trading off the interests of Crewe and Carlisle to benefit Warrington and Bradford would be a strategic mistake. We need an integrated network that will benefit all our constituents, from Birmingham to Manchester to Leeds to the Borderlands and into Scotland.
An integrated NPR and HS2 would deliver a major economic boost to the UK. Economic growth scenarios point to a potential aggregate gross value added prize for the North of £1,008bn between 2035 and 2050. If transport investment unlocks just 10% of this prize it would deliver an additional £100bn. 20% of the benefits of NPR are delivered from the long-distance journeys on the HS2 network. In addition, across the HS2 route locally-led growth plans will add almost 500,000 jobs and nearly 90,000 new homes from the improved connectivity HS2 services will provide.
We have once-in-a-generation opportunity to ‘level up’ the places we represent, so future generations of young Brummies and Bradfordians, those from Darlo to Derbyshire and elsewhere, grow up with no ceiling to their prosperity and opportunity.