What welcome news it is that Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport is considering ways to bring forward the benefits of high speed rail (HS2) to Yorkshire as the Yorkshire Post reported last week.York Central MP Hugh Bayley is surely right to argue that Yorkshire must get the same benefits at the same time as the North West, and not 6-7 years later as current plans intend.
Justine Greening warned there are “challenges” surrounding the proposal, which Greengauge 21 has advocated since 2009, to build a short stretch of railway linking the first stage of HS2 to the Midland Main Line, but has shown a very welcome preparedness to listen to the views of those in the region.
Alongside her Department’s commitment to fund Midland Main Line electrification (a necessary precursor to the idea of an early HS2 connection for Yorkshire) is an intention to look at a further scheme. As a follow-on, this is electrification of the Derby – Birmingham line (for implementation in 2019-2024). This is another necessary step, and one which will bring benefits that include cost efficiencies that will flow back to DfT and Treasury. The jigsaw pieces – for once – are falling into place
The benefits of the link for the East Midlands and Yorkshire are huge, and the landscape of benefit of HS2 will be spread across a much wider geography from the start. Indeed, we have estimated that the additional short connection will increase the benefits from HS2 – by 20% or more.
And, as transport authorities in Yorkshire have pointed out, the link will secure train paths from the eastern side of the country on the Phase 1 route from the Midlands into London. This removes the risk that by the time Phase 2 comes along, HS2 will already have a ‘sorry, full up’ sign hung around it.
[Reproduced from letter published in Yorkshire Post 25 July 2012]