The Independent Transport Commission published its High Speed Rail and Connected Cities report in Leeds earlier this week. Transport Secretary of State, Patrick McLoughlin was there to help to launch it.
With press speculation about what Sir Jeremy Heywood’s review of HS2 might have to say no doubt in mind Patrick McLoughlin was abundantly clear: “I can tell you today that it is going to Leeds and it is going to Manchester. Because we are totally committed to the whole of the high speed network.”
“Of course there will always be pressure to look at costs, and to make sure we’re getting the best value for money – it would be insane not to do so. But it would also be insane not to say ‘what is our transport system going to look like?’ and to make sure our great cities have those same opportunities that London has, and make sure that young people look to those cities to base their lives on, and not to move away from them.”
The new report concludes the Independent Transport Commission’s programme of work to capture learning and insights from experience of high speed rail in mainland Europe and to provide guidance on ways to enhance the process of urban change on the back of infrastructure investment.
A number of recurring themes emerge. Successful cities have a coherent sense of identity and a shared ambition of what they wish to achieve from enhanced connectivity. Investment in local connectivity is critical if the benefits of high speed rail investment are to be shared across a whole region. And these benefits are more easily captured when there is widespread co-operation and collaborative working ensuring that not only local government but also civic society and citizens are able to contribute and take a central role in the economic development of their city regions.
The ITC report can be found at www.theitc.org.uk