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Rail link between Leeds and Manchester proposed
Heather Church - June 25, 2014

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has proposed creation of a high speed rail line between Manchester and Leeds to create a “Northern powerhouse”.

He said: “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. 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.

“By joining our northern cities together – not physically, or into some artificial political construct – but by providing the modern transport connections they need; by backing their science and universities; by backing their creative clusters; and giving them the local power and control that a powerhouse economy needs.

“I’ve committed £600 million to the Northern Hub, which will cut journey times on trains between Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield. I want now to properly hook up Hull to our national network too.

“The huge roads investment programme we’ve just started on will see upgrades to the M62, M1, A1 in Newcastle and Gateshead, and a new Mersey Gateway Bridge – with more schemes to be announced later this year.

“We’ve backed the port of Liverpool, reversed the crazy decisions that blocked cruise ships there, and I want to see the Atlantic Gateway go from being a brilliant concept to a transforming reality.

“And this winter we will tender for the whole new Northern rail franchise. We’ll want to see not just better services, and more seats at peak times, but also better journeys.

“So bidders for the franchise will be asked to include options to get rid of outdated ‘railbus’ or ‘pacer’ style trains. It’s time for modern rolling stock in the north.

“Above all, we are building High Speed 2, which will connect 8 of the 10 largest cities in the UK, including Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. Phase 2 alone is a £21bn investment, and will support at least 60,000 jobs. It’s the most important investment in the north for a century.

“In two weeks’ time we will announce the first allocation of £2bn a year of funding from the Single Local Growth Fund. This was the brainchild of Michael Heseltine.

“And I can tell you today I want to make sure we don’t just commit this money year-to-year, but commit money over many years, to long term projects that drive local growth. That’s the long term approach that we are bringing to investment spending.

“So step one in building the Northern Powerhouse is a radical transport plan so that travelling between cities feels like travelling within one big city.

“The Northern Powerhouse can’t be built over-night. It’s a long-term plan for a country serious about its long-term economic future.

“It means jobs and prosperity and security for people here over future decades.

“And I promise you this – I will work tirelessly with anyone across political divides in any of these great cities to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality.”