Northern businesses urge Government to back £39bn high-speed rail plan

A new survey of 5,000 businesses has been published which shows overwhelming support for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. Tony McDonough reports

railway, tracks, trains
Businesses across the North are backing high-speed rail


Businesses across the North of England have sent a “clear and urgent” message to the Government to back both HS2 and the £39bn ‘Crossrail for the North’ project’.

At an event in Liverpool earlier this week, the chief executive of Manchester City Council, Joanne Roney said business needed to be “more vocal” in their support of both high-speed rail projects.

Now a survey of 5,000 businesses has been revealed which shows overwhelming support for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR). It was published in the Backing Northern Powerhouse Rail report by law firm Addleshaw Goddard and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

They say linking NPR with HS2 Phase 2b – linking Leeds and Manchester with the high-speed network – would provide a significant step to rebalancing the UK economy, making the North as prosperous as the South and eradicating the North-South divide.

The survey showed:

  • 99% believe NPR would raise productivity in the Northern Powerhouse.
  • 85% believe NPR would increase inward investment.
  • 75% state a commitment to deliver NPR would allow them to make future investment decisions.
  • 62% would recruit from a wider geographic area.
  • 43% would look to expand or relocate to encourage growth.

The strategic outline business case for NPR is currently being considered by Government, after Transport for the North set out a £39bn proposal to revolutionise east-west connectivity in the North.

NPR, aligning with HS2 Phase 2b, would provide faster journey times, enhanced capacity and greater frequency of services, connecting the great cities of the North and creating business growth through extra capacity.

Paul Hirst, head of transport at Addleshaw Goddard, said: “NPR is critical for a future thriving Northern economy, and this report demonstrates how strongly this sentiment is held across the business community.

“Businesses are motivated by the opportunities NPR will bring, and certainty of investment in NPR by the Government will allow them to make key decisions now which will allow their organisations to grow and prosper in the future.”

With a foreword from Northern Powerhouse Partnership Chair George Osborne, Backing Northern Powerhouse Rail includes results from a survey with more than 5000 businesses across the North, as well as more in-depth interviews with major Northern employers including Manchester Airports Group, Siemens, Atkins and The Peel Group.

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