HS3: Chancellor will outline proposal to create high-speed rail link connecting Leeds and Manchester
George Osborne hopes HS3 plan will boost Tories’ ratings in North
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Sunday 22 June 2014
A plan to boost the economy of the North by building England’s third high-speed rail link – HS3 – between Manchester and Leeds will be outlined by George Osborne today.
The project would be based on the existing Manchester-to-Leeds rail line but journey times would be speeded up by building new tunnels and infrastructure.
The fastest train between the two cities now takes 49 minutes, almost twice as long as the similar 35-mile journey between London and Reading.
Speaking in Manchester, the Chancellor will admit: “The cities of the North are individually strong, but collectively not strong enough. The whole is less than the sum of its parts. So the powerhouse of London dominates more and more. And that’s not healthy for our economy. It’s not good for our country.”
He will say: “We need a northern powerhouse too. Not one city, but a collection of northern cities – sufficiently close to each other that combined they can take on the world. Able to provide jobs and opportunities and security to the many, many people who live here, and for whom this is all about.”
There could be disappointment in places such as Newcastle and Liverpool that they do not feature in the rail plan. But other links could be improved, while some parts of the North could benefit from road schemes.
Mr Osborne envisages a “northern hub” with 7.8 million people stretching from Merseyside through Greater Manchester to West and South Yorkshire, which would rival London’s 8.3 million population. Council leaders in the North East have warned that the North extends far beyond Manchester.
Although no timescale or budget for HS3 has been fixed, Mr Osborne’s move is a sign that Coalition ministers are worried that the recovery is unbalanced and too concentrated on the South East.
Conservative activists have been urging more measures to boost the party’s prospects in the North, which contains a clutch of the key marginal seats that will decide next year’s general election.
The Chancellor will tell his audience today: “We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west –to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city.”
He will argue that in today’s economy, city size matters more than ever. The world’s top 600 cities contain 20 per cent of its population but account for 60 per cent of global gross domestic product.
Jim O’Neill, who chairs the Cities Commission, welcomed the Osborne plan, saying more effective communications would allow northern cities to operate as a large economic hub, ensure “more balanced growth” and boost the whole country’s long-term growth potential.
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Israel-Gaza conflict: The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The missiles were tragically real
Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
Syria conflict: Syrian and Turkish Kurds unite to battle Isis threat - ‘We shoot them like sheep, but next day double the number return’
Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified ...
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently for ...
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienc...
£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...