Plan to rally region’s support for HS2 unveiled

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A plan designed to rally support for a new high speed rail line to Yorkshire will be unveiled today during a visit by the man in charge of making sure the project gives the region a major economic boost.

Councils in the Leeds City Region have joined forces to call for the line, known as HS2, to be built from the north towards the Midlands – rather than from south-to-north as currently planned – as a way of creating jobs in Yorkshire much earlier.

The blueprint will also call for money to be put into local rail services and other transport links before HS2 arrives alongside improvements to existing East Coast Main Line services. The Government will be urged to bear down on the costs of the project, currently put at about £43bn, and explore changes to the route.

The plan to be set out today also asks for the compensation arrangements for residents disrupted by HS2 to be reviewed. While Leeds, where there will be an HS2 station, has consistently supported the project, neighbouring authorities have taken a more cautious approach and the new plan is designed to unite the region.

The leader of Leeds City Council, Coun Keith Wakefield, said: “In terms of economic benefits it’s important we start early because this project could be transformational.

“We need to make sure Yorkshire gets the maximum benefits and one of the ways is to start building from Yorkshire. It is also important that we speak with one voice.”

Wakefield Council has reserved judgment on HS2 and drawn up a list of concerns it will raise with the Government including how the district will benefit economically and the preservation of the existing rail service.

Council leader Peter Box said: “This very much links with what Wakefield Council has agreed. We believe it’s important discussion and debate takes place with Ministers as soon as possible.”

The ideas will be presented to Lord Deighton, the Government Minister in charge of the taskforce currently working on ideas to make sure areas along the route maximise the benefits of HS2, when he visits Leeds today.

Other members of the taskforce include Roger Marsh, the chairman of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, which brings councils and businesses in the area together to create jobs.

He said: “This is a must-have opportunity and we are determined to seize it with both hands.”

HS2 services to Yorkshire are due to begin in 2032.