Manchester City Council

Please Mr Porter

After eight weeks in post, the new Chair of HS2, David Higgins, delivered his first evaluation report in Manchester at the beginning of this week. Being in Manchester was in itself symbolic, giving a very clear message that HS2 is very much about improved transport links for the North, but the report had much more than symbols to offer.

First and foremost he stressed that HS2 remains essential to our economic future but also recommended that the network needs to be constructed alongside improvements to East-West connectivity between Northern cities. The money is available to do both! Network Rail and the Department for Transport are already planning for the next control ( spending ) period, period 6, and on current projections government will be spending more on other rail improvements throughout control periods 6 and 7 ( 2020-2029 ) than it will on the high speed network. The North now needs to get together and agree what its priorities are for those improved inter-city links in the north and midlands and then campaign with one voice to get a fair share of that control period 6 and 7 pot.

Other important recommendations included accelerating the build process getting to Crewe by 2027, six years ahead of the current schedule, with Manchester and Leeds brought forward by three years. This has a double benefit of increasing cost certainty and of the north reaping the benefits sooner. Costs are clearly an issue but the biggest risks here are not construction overspends but how long our parliamentarians take to get through their legislative processes.

Just one other thing I'll mention here. David Higgins has said that the current proposal to link HS2 with HS1 and through that to mainland Europe is inadequate and should be reviewed. That review and the suggested comprehensive private sector funded redevelopment of Euston Station are very much to be welcome. This Higgins report is a very important staging post to delivering the transport network Manchester and the north needs. Parliament now needs to show the same dynamism in dealing with the phase 1 hybrid bill and moving as quickly as possible to phase 2, including considering breaking with convention and having two bills going at the same time.

There are 4 responses to “ Please Mr Porter ”

  1. S Bigland Says:

    There are significant cuts being made in Manchester Council frontline services of £100`s of millions a year to fund this daft HS2 train! It will drag investment and talent to London. If it was so brilliant at rebalancing the economy, how come 85% of the French FTSE (CAC40) is still based in Paris - they`ve had the TGV for years! I also dont like the way you and a bunch of your council friends are sitting on Boards of companies that need HS2 to make £bns in profit. I also dont like the fact george osbornes father in law is paid by japanese high speed rail company JR Central and that ministers have been meeting with them! Entire situation stinks. Plus, how much does Manchester have to stump up to fund the stations and all the other junk that comes with it? That cost isnt declared and neither is the fact that the "cost review" that Higgins did was based on 2011 prices - how is that a 2014 cost review! We are hearing that the treasury and a bunch of other people are telling us this train is going to cost £73 bn now but Higgins cant declare that cos its too expensive and Labour have said no to that expenditure - quite right! It needs to be stopped and if you wont then you need to be kicked out for the good of Manchester!

  2. HS2sceptic Says:

    If Richard Leese is so sure that money for transport will be flowing like water in the 2020s he is not just an astute local politician but a magician - whatever 'planning' the DfT is doing. What we can be much more certain about is that if HS2 is approved then the money for it will take precedence over anything else. Richard will get his Manchester status symbol, everyone else will have to wait and see. So if what you really want is to improve the rail network across the whole country (not just in the north by the way) you would be seriously unwise to subordinate your needs to HS2 as Richard proposes.

  3. Tony Says:

    I was worried by early press reports of scrapping the proposed link between HS2 and HS1, but later details are re-assuring. We need to remember the fiasco over Regional Eurostars, which would have connected the north with the Continent in 1994, 20 years ago.

    On the comments against HS2 in the responses, we need to bear in mind Thameslink and then Crossrail. There IS funding for major investments, and we need to stop it always going within London and the south east without balance across the north.

  4. franky Says:

    No one can assure us that HS2 will benefit Manchester. Remember that Cameron said business men can work on HS2 while they can't on West coast. Which shows how out of touch they are.



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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