27 Oct 2014

Cameron and Osborne give the green light to develop ‘HS3’

The government backs proposals for a high speed rail link across some of the biggest cities in the north of England.

The rail link – dubbed HS3 – would connect to the controversial HS2 line, and could cut journey times from Manchester to Leeds from 48 to 26 minutes.

HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins said northern connectivity plans would be “as important to the north of England as Crossrail is for London”.

Reducing the journey times between and within our cities isn’t just desirable…It is a strategic necessity. Sir David Higgins

The plans, if carried forward, would mean journey times between Leeds and Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield Meadowhall, York and Birmingham and Nottingham to Birmingham could also be reduced by a half or more, and many more journeys across the country substantially shortened.

The prime minister said: “Improving connectivity and reducing journey times between our great northern cities is a crucial part of our long term economic plan for the north to boost businesses and create more jobs and security for hardworking people. That’s why we are backing HS3”.

Mr Osborne said: “On the back of new transport infrastructure, science investment and civic leadership, we are well on our way to turning the northern powerhouse into reality.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander also welcomed the report, as did House of Commons Transport Committee chairman Louise Ellman.

‘Complete mess’

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said HS3 would be even more expensive per mile than HS2.

He added that Sir David’s report “showed that the original plans for HS2 weren’t thought through properly”.

Mr Rukin went on: “Changing the mess that is phase two doesn’t change the fact that phase one is still a complete mess, as is the entire concept of HS2.”

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: “Labour supports high-speed rail to tackle commuter overcrowding and to improve connections between cities in the north and Midlands and London.”

She went on: “Hard-pressed travellers in the North will judge David Cameron on his actions, not words.”