Manchester on track to boost jobs and economy on ‘Olympic scale’ with HS2 rail network, says report

Mancunians will be able to enjoy shorter train journeys, more jobs and a boost to its economy with the HS2 rail network, predicts the government’s Growth Taskforce.

The organisation, which unites figures from across the political spectrum, has delivered its recommendations to the government on how to maximise the economic and social impacts of HS2.

The taskforce has made a number of recommendations which include plans to ensure HS2 contracts lead to local job creation, skills development and apprenticeships.

The report suggests that ‘HS2 can help rebalance the economy, kick-starting growth and regeneration in our cities’.

HS2 is a planned high-speed network rail link between London, English Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire which would significantly reduce travel times and increase jobs as well as be a boost to the economy.

Taskforce Chair and Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Deighton, believes the new rail system has the chance to become a major success.

“Like the Olympics, HS2 has the potential to be a great British success story, bringing jobs and growth to the whole country,” he said.

“Our report sets out the common sense steps that we need to take now to achieve this.”

The report also calls for a simplification of funding to be able to deliver construction faster around the HS2 sites.

The recommendations will also ensure that British firms are assisted in bidding for HS2 contracts and state work should begin to make sure young people capitalise on the opportunities opened up by HS2.

Sir Howard Bernstein, CEO of Manchester City Council and Deputy Chair of the Taskforce, thinks it is crucial everyone pulls together to get Britain ready for HS2.

“HS2 is not just a railway,” said Sir Howard.

“It is the opportunity to re-balance Britain and kick-start regeneration in my city and others across the Midlands and the North of England.”

Under the current plans, HS2 would reach northern cities such as Manchester by 2032 and the planners have estimated the difference in journey times HS2 will bring about.

Manchester Airport will see the biggest reduction in journey time to London than any HS2 station, with a massive 75 minutes being taken off the time.

Manchester Piccadilly will have the second biggest, with a 46.9% reduction in the journey time to and from London.

The Taskforce has included plans for targeted local development to prepare a workforce with the right skills for the 25,000 new jobs to build and maintain HS2.

World-leading engineer Sir David Higgins’ report produced on March 17 stated that HS2 benefits could be felt sooner than expected if Phase Two was accelerated and a new regional transport hub at Crewe  created by 2027 – six years sooner than planned.

Lord Heseltine also welcomed the report suggesting it would improve the economy of many UK cities.

“The HS2 Growth Taskforce has shown just the kind of thinking needed to maximise growth and unleash the potential of great cities like Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield,” Lord Heseltine said.

The proposed plans have become controversial with many suggesting it will just become a waste of money and time.

MM reported on the Green Party’s protest over the £50billion train investment in February after they branded it a ‘government vanity project’.

Image courtesy of mwmbwls, via Flickr, with thanks

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