HS2 Investment Warnings for the North East

The HS2 Chairman has been contacted by business leaders and local councils where they have expressed concerns over the need for investment in the East Coast Main Line.

The joint letter makes it clear that investment is needed throughout the area in preparation for high-speed trains to access the northeast and beyond. They are calling for a single plan to be developed where the mainline between York and Newcastle is upgraded in preparation for HS2 in 2033.

The North East Joint Transport Committee has sent the letter as it is responsible for Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland but it also comes from the local enterprise as well as local council leaders. The make it clear that the government has to put money into a high-speed link or the risk putting barriers up that will leave the region behind.

Whether further investment from the government is likely is still unknown but HS2 has already pushed costs up and there are risks of it not sticking to its schedule. This has resulted in the chief executive Sir Terry Morgan resigning.

Yesterday it became apparent that Mark Thurston, the new chief executive for HS2 has indicated that train speeds and service could be reduced to keep the budget and schedule on track.

Martin Gammon, the leader of Gateshead Council said the HS2 has the ability to help the economy grow in the northeast but it just as easily can prevent it from benefiting from a high-speed link, which will put up barriers.

It is clear that the government is already committed to phases 1 and 2a of HS2, which aims to create economic ties between London, the West Midlands and the north-west and investment into these areas is being encouraged but the equivalent investment needs to be committed to HS2 Phase 2b, in order to help boost confidence in the area. This can be achieved through significant investment and so, the government, Network Rail and Transport for the north are being called upon to work together in order to create a plan that is credible, timely and funded in the correct way, so that the East Coast Main Lin can be upgraded appropriately.

Deborah Lillis

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