The woman responsible for ensuring HS2 is kept on track has attempted to silence the project’s naysayers by insisting that no one should doubt the Department for Transport’s “full commitment to the entire project.”
Speaking at an event in Westminster hosted by Turner & Townsend on behalf of HS2 East - a partnership representing towns and cities along the eastern leg of the Phase 2b route – Ghani once again highlighted the far-reaching benefits of the “once-in-a-lifetime transport investment”.
She was joined by HS2 chair Allan Cook who also reiterated how the scheme could transform cities up and down the country once complete.
The eastern leg of HS2 is a high speed connection between Birmingham, Toton in the East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle, and would improve journey times up to Scotland. These collective destinations have a combined population of 15 million people and already contribute over £320bn a year to the UK economy.
Coinciding with the outpouring of support, a £2m government fund to establish a locally-led East Midlands Development Corporation has been signed off this week to maximise and accelerate development opportunities and strategic transport connectivity around the HS2 East Midlands Hub station at Toton and across the region.
Ghani, the undersecretary of state for transport, has now called on industry leaders and supporters to start shouting the benefits of HS2.
“This is a railway that will have a profoundly positive impact on the cities and towns along the length of the Eastern Leg for generations to come,” she said. “It is the defining infrastructure project of a generation – one that can transform and rebalance our entire economy and provide a major boost to places like Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. HS2 is happening and we will continue to work with regional partners to ensure we smash the north/south divide.”
HS2 chair, Cook, added: “HS2 is not just a transport project, it’s a UK-wide regeneration programme that will transform towns and cities across the Midlands and the North. We’re talking about decades worth of investment and benefits that will be felt for generations. Stopping short is not an option – we must, and will, deliver HS2 in its entirety.”
While Andrew Pritchard from HS2 East, East Midlands Councils and Midlands Connect said construction of the eastern Leg would “create a new, virtual conurbation” allowing businesses to compete on the world stage.
“The route is already home to a number of internationally-leading organisations such as JCB, Rolls Royce, Siemens and Bombardier,” Pritchard added. “Linking our advanced manufacturing experts by high speed rail will foster increased productivity, innovation and economic growth.”