The Government’s announcement that the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham will be extended to Manchester and Leeds offers a long-term promise of prosperity down the line. It has been called an engine for growth and I believe that to be a very apt description.
With trains running at speeds of up to 225mph, journey times between London and Manchester will be slashed to 68 minutes. The HS2 project brings with it the promise of more than 10,000 jobs in the North West as the region begins to realise its full economic potential.
HS2 will also connect us to Europe’s high-speed network. The Continent already demonstrates the many benefits of high-speed rail. Germany, Europe’s most prosperous country, has the Inter-City Express system which provides super-fast travel between its major cities and beyond. Spain, Italy, Belgium and The Netherlands all have their own projects.
Of course many voices will be raised against HS2, but that’s nothing new. Almost 200 years ago there was staunch opposition to the construction of railways in the Victorian era, yet they proved to be the backbone of the Industrial Revolution. They made it possible to move goods and materials quickly about the country, fuelling the expansion of cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds which will all be on the new network.
Railways cemented Britain’s place as the world’s leading industrial power in the 19th century. If we are to be a major player in the 21st century economy I believe it is vital that HS2 is completed.
As the project develops over the next 20 years, Tameside will be ideally placed to benefit. I’m determined that we get a ticket on this high-speed train to prosperity.