Council welcomes High Speed rail benefits for York

28 Jan 2013 @ 8.24 am
| News

Issued by City of York Council

City of York Council has today welcomed confirmation from Government that York is set to benefit from the High Speed 2 programme, with faster rail travel to London and key UK cities, such as Birmingham, by 2032.

The announcement, made by Prime Minister David Cameron and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, reaffirmed Governments commitment to the delivery of HS2 and its integration with the existing national railway network. The confirmed route means that York will benefit from substantial time savings due to new trains able to use both high speed and conventional railway lines. In real terms, York will see journey times of just 83 minutes to London and 63 minutes to Birmingham.

The Department for Transport has predicted that the construction of the railway line, its maintenance and new station hubs will create a total of 100,000 jobs for the UK, with further employment benefits for York and the rest of the North seen to be well above that figure. The region will see new stations at Leeds and Sheffield, bringing communities and businesses in and around those areas closer together with each other, Birmingham, London and beyond. Local transport connections around all high speed stations, particularly at non-city centre locations, will be enhanced.

Cllr James Alexander, Leader of City of York Council and Chair of the East Coast Main Line Group said: “Whilst the city currently enjoys an enviable position at the heart of the national railway network on the East Coast Mainline (ECML), we have been working alongside our private sector partners and York MP’s to directly lobby Government ministers for improvements to ECML and to ensure that the benefits of the High Speed 2 programme reach the city, knowing that these projects are key to York achieving both a nationally competitive and leading international city economy.

“This commitment to the next phase of the HS2 programme means that York is set to realise real economic benefits upon its completion. With access to the country’s capital in just 83 minutes, York will become an even greater hub for tourism and business. We know that developments such as York Central are key to securing the long-term economic future of York and we now need to work to capitalise on today’s announcement, which provides a further boost in confidence to York as a city to invest.”

Cllr Alexander and Kersten England, Chief Executive of City of York Council, met with council representatives from right across the East Coast Mainline (ECML) last week, to discuss how they can build a business case to the Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail for further investment in the line, which saw agreement for further discussion around the franchise and investment in the development of key sites up and down the line.

The ECML Group represent’s 18 authorities and first met in October, which coincided with the Department of Transport’s (DfT) announcement that the ECML franchising would not be put on hold, to ensure that those authorities along the line join forces to present a strong position to government and call for improvements to its infrastructure, in line with increasing visitor and commercial demand.

In strongly supporting York’s call for a collaborative approach, the length of the line and across the political spectrum, the group will continue to meet to identify joint priorities for investment across the line to work with the DfT, and to push forward a collective position on the ECML improvements.

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