Sheffield chamber welcomes HS2 progress in Parliament

Sheffield Chamber has welcomed the progress through Parliament of a bill paving the way for HS2 in the North.

By David Walsh
Wednesday, 17 July, 2019, 16:02
Sheffield chamber director Richard Wright.

Phase 2a of the HS2 hybrid bill had a successful third reading. MPs voted by 263 votes to 17 to pass it through the report stage.

Phase 2a is the route between Birmingham and Crewe. It is a necessary step towards Phase 2b which will connect Crewe with Manchester and Liverpool, and Birmingham to Sheffield and Leeds.

It builds upon Phase 1 which covers the line between London and Birmingham and is already being built.

Chamber director Richard Wright, said: “The bill got an excellent majority and wide cross-party backing and shows this project is very much alive, despite some of the negative and ill-informed opinions that have been offered throughout its life."

In June, Boris Johnson was accused of throwing the future of HS2 into uncertainty after he asked a former boss of the £56 billion pound rail project to conduct a review into “whether and how” it should proceed.

It came as civic leaders from across the North wrote to all Conservative leadership contenders urging them to affirm their commitment to the delivery in full of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will provide east-west services.

Mr Wright added: “We should not lose sight of the fact that, in combination with Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 will start to give the North of England the transport investment it badly needs.

“Combined, these projects will give us good north/south and east/west connectivity, more capacity, better services and a better environment.

“By not mixing slow and fast trains, HS2 will run more efficiently and we can take cars and wagons off the roads which should be an objective for us all.

"Generally, business would ask Governments to provide three basic things - infrastructure including transport, a skilled workforce at the right levels and in the right proportions for the economic strategy, and investment in research and development to give us a good supply of new knowledge and products that we can commercialise and deliver value.

“After that it is the responsibility of business to create wealth and deliver jobs.

“It’s a simple equation that we seem to complicate and get wrong sometimes.

“Devolution is an important part of the process because so many times we have shown that a nationally specified one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

“Local regions, defined by economic factors like travel to work areas, supply chains or expertise in certain sectors, are able to focus resources more effectively. Resources are limited but we still have to compete in an internationally competitive world."