Reaction from around the country to the government’s HS2 announcement.
Network Rail – David Higgins, chief executive
“A new high-speed network is valuable not only for the railway but also for Britain’s prosperity. The railways don’t just move people and freight; they create jobs, connect economic centres and open up new markets.
“Unprecedented growth in the last 10 years has seen passenger journeys grow by 50 per cent to almost 1.5 billion a year and that number is set to continue to grow. More people use the railways today than at any time since the Second World War, on a network half the size it was then.
“We are already delivering the biggest capacity improvement programme since the Victorian era, but even this is not enough. Without HS2 the West Coast Main Line – our busiest and most economically important line – will be full in a little over a decade. This is a rare chance to stop playing catch-up on capacity. If we get ahead of the game we can create huge opportunities for growth and connectivity.
“HS2 could be that rarest of things – a genuine game-changer for the railway. It can transform long-distance travel, improve daily commutes on existing lines and create space on the network for passengers and freight to transfer from congested roads to an expanded railway.”
South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority – Councillor Mick Jameson, chairman of SYPTE
“This announcement is the result of a lot of hard work by people across the Sheffield City Region and beyond and is hugely important for our future economic competitiveness.
“The M1 location is already served by bus, Supertram and local rail services. It will help to spread the benefits of HSR throughout the region, using the transport links which have ready access to much of South Yorkshire.
“It will offer much improved connections to London and the other cities in the Midlands and North. It will also open up many new possibilities for new services to places not currently served when capacity is freed up on the existing network.”
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers – RMT General Secretary Bob Crow
“The modernisation and expansion of rail in the UK is many years overdue and while RMT welcomes any belated investment and development we must not forget that it is decades of political inertia that have left Britain’s railways in the slow lane.
“We are miles behind the rest of Europe when it comes to high speed and electrification because our railways have been fragmented and run for private profit rather than as a public service for the past 20 years.
“We have been left playing catch up and there is no excuse for further delays.
“We must also make sure we don’t fall for the old political trick of rail staff cuts and high fares today on the promise of high speed jam tomorrow.”
Centro – Geoff Inskip, chief executive
“So much of the talk so far has inevitably focused on the phase one link from Birmingham to London, but the economic benefits of linking our regions with faster, direct services are often overlooked.
“Journeys times between Birmingham and Manchester and Leeds will be halved by HS2 and this is great news for our region and theirs.
“We’re excited because we’re right at the heart of this network and the challenge for us now is to get the very best return we can from HS2.
“Our challenge is to ensure local and regional transport links in seamlessly with high-speed rail.”
IMechE – Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering
“This is welcome news for jobs, the economy as well as commuters.
“This investment will help ease overcrowding on UK trains and help promote jobs and investment in Manchester, the East Midlands and Yorkshire. It also opens up the possibility of more freight being transported via rail, as well helping to encourage commuters to ditch their cars in favour of train travel – both of which will help ease congestion on British roads.
“The lower carbon credentials of moving people and freight by railway is also an important factor as we move towards our legally binding climate change act targets in 2020 and beyond.
“But government has to make sure that the development of HS2 is also an investment into UK jobs and skills.
“The UK must seize the opportunity presented by HS2 to invest in and develop future engineering talent.”