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'Bring HS2 into Preston' says leading Lancashire business figure

The Government is being urged to extend the HS2 project into Lancashire Credit: PA Images

A leading business figure has called on the Government to bring the planned HS2 rail link into Lancashire.

The chief executive of North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has called on the Government to reconsider the current proposals that do not extend beyond Manchester.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has promised that HS2 will go ahead as planned following the Conservatives' victory in last month's General Election.

In a keynote speech in Leeds, Mr McLoughlin said work on the connection between Birmingham and London would begin in 2017, with the ‘Y network’ – the lines to Leeds and Manchester – following soon after.

While welcoming Mr McLoughlin’s comments, NWLCC Chief Executive Babs Murphy said: 'I would ask the Government to reconsider its decision to end the line at Manchester and bring it into Lancashire.'

'We have waited a long time for developments on HS2 and while it is good news the Government plans to finally get going on it, it would be even better for Lancashire if the county was to benefit more directly.'

'The North West of England however does not stop at Manchester. Extending the line to Preston would provide a greater connectivity not just to Lancashire but to Cumbria, Scotland and the whole of the North West.'

Mr McLoughlin said: 'The General Election result was a massive vote of confidence in favour of HS2.'

'So the argument has been won. HS2 will be built, the full ‘Y’ network, from London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, with construction starting in just two years.'

'This is the best opportunity in well over a century to level the playing field between north and south.'

“Not by dragging London down, but by firing up the rest of the country - the East and West Midlands and the new Northern Powerhouse - with transport connections that match the very best in Europe.”

HS2 scrutinised in Manchester

HS2 impression

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will be in Mancheester to discuss the high speed rail link. They'll hear evidence from Town Hall bossess over what potential benefits HS2 will bring to the region and what needs to be improved.

The evidence sessions are open to the public. Click herefor full details.

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Chancellor to set out vision for a Northern Powerhouse

Chancellor George Osborne will today set out the government’s vision for a northern economic powerhouse.

Chancellor George Osborne wants to create a Northern Powerhouse to rival the south. Credit: PA

He will be in Manchester to hear proposals for a £15 billion plan to improve the future of the northern economy in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield over the next 15 years.

Mr Osborne is expected to say: "Today I give you this personal commitment. Work with me over the coming months and together we will make a reality of the plan I've set out for the Northern Powerhouse.

“I'm ready to commit new money, new infrastructure, new transport and new science. And real new civic power too."

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Osborne: A closely linked North could 'take on world'

George Osborne will say a collection of northern cities linked closer together by new transport infrastructure could "take on the world" as he bids to end London's "unhealthy" economic dominance.

The Chancellor will say in a keynote speech in Manchester today:

We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns here in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west - to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city.

As well as fixing the roads, that means considering a new high speed rail link.

Today I want us to start thinking about whether to build a new high-speed rail connection east-west from Manchester to Leeds.

– Chancellor George Osborne

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Chancellor sets out vision for 'Northern Powerhouse'

A new high-speed rail connection and improved roads between England's northern cities could help create an economic powerhouse to rival London, George Osborne will say today.

He will use a speech to say an upgraded, link between Manchester and Leeds should be considered as part of the review of the second phase of the project. The Chancellor will say he wants travelling through towns and cities in the north to be as easy as moving around a major global metropolis.

Under current plans the £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail project will link London to Birmingham in its first stage, before creating a Y-shaped network with lines to Manchester and Leeds by 2032/33.

We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns here in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west - to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city.

As well as fixing the roads, that means considering a new high speed rail link. Today I want us to start thinking about whether to build a new high-speed rail connection east-west from Manchester to Leeds."

– Chancellor George Osborne

Nobody will believe the Tories can deliver the jobs, growth and investment we need for the north of England. Regional growth divides have widened markedly since 2010. The Tories scrapped Labour's successful regional development agencies, failed to implement Lord Heseltine's growth report and are planning to cut infrastructure investment next year.

On high-speed rail, we said months ago that we need value for money for the taxpayer and to improve the existing plans to maximise the benefits for the whole country and strengthen the links between northern cities. Ministers need finally to start listening."

– Shadow chancellor Ed Balls

Manchester shortlisted to become the home of the National College for High Speed Rail

Manchester could be location for HS2 skill base Credit: PA Images

Manchester is among four locations across the country to have been shortlisted to become the home of the National College for High Speed Rail.

The announcement came from Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock.

The Government say the so called new College ‘hub’ and a number of ‘spokes’ based across the country will provide training to the next generation of engineers working on the HS2 project and beyond.

The areas shortlisted for further development are Birmingham, Derby, Doncaster and Manchester.

The quality of responses was very high overall with strong bids from many locations.

All bids were assessed against a range of criteria including the size and availability of a suitable site, accessibility, and the potential to develop strong links with employers and providers already operating in the sector.

Church of England joins HS2 battle

Artist impression

The Church of England has joined opponents of the Government's HS2 proposals, warning that current plans for constructing the line mean human remains will not be treated "in a decent and reverent manner".

The Archbishops' Council, which is led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, says there must be changes to give greater protection to remains which have to be exhumed along the route.

In a petition to the House of Commons, the Council says that works authorised by the Bill will involve the destruction of three burial grounds consecrated for the burial of the dead in accordance with the rites of the Church of England and the removal of human remains and monuments from them.

They have complained that the link will cut through their estates,cause noise and damage areas of outstanding natural beauty. The link will speed up travel time between the north and south.

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