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HS2 "should start in North at same time as South"

The head of the HS2 rail project said building work should start in the North of England at the same time as the South East, which would see high speed trains coming to Leeds by 2030, three years earlier than currently planned.

The £50 billion project will see trains travelling at 250mph, but would only go as far as West Yorkshire, leading to concerns that the North East would lose out economically.

The Northumberland MP Alan Beith said the comments were "good news" but that he would prefer improvements to the East Coast Mainline, which runs between London and Scotland via the North East.

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HS2 'will transform existing rail service'

The introduction of HS2 will "transform" service on existing train lines, Network Rail says.

Paul Plummer, group strategy director at the rail authority, said: "HS2 will sit at the heart of Britain's transport network, allowing us to reshape the railway in a way that incremental improvements simply cannot.

"That's why we welcome the report's recommendations and its call for an integrated approach to planning and operating the railway," he said.

Mr Plummer added: "The step-change in capacity that HS2 enables across the network as a whole will transform the service on existing lines, creating the space we need to meet growing demand and deliver new and better connections."

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high-speed rail project

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North 'faces lost decade' if HS2 boss ignored

The potential HS2 train design.
The potential HS2 train design. Credit: HS2/PA Wire

The north will face a "lost decade of growth" if recommendations to extend the early phase of HS2 are not accepted by politicians, a major rail union says.

Following Sir David Higgins' call to extend phase one of the project to Crewe, TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: "Sir David is absolutely right - we cannot, as a country, take the slow line to a high-speed rail future.

"We need to make sure that the north benefits as quickly as the Midlands and the South from this huge investment.

The alternative, he said, is a "lost decade of growth while the South East powers ahead of the rest of the country with the lion's share of the budget".

"The £50 billion investment must benefit the whole country if it is to help re-balance the economy," Mr Cortes added.

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high-speed rail service

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Campaigners: HS2 costs an 'attempt to con the public'

Campaign manager for Stop HS2 campaign has said any "pretence" that costs of the High Speed rail network are under control are a "con".

Joe Rukin said: "David Higgins has spent three months looking for cost savings for HS2 and he hasn't found a single bean. Any pretence that the costs of HS2 are under control are a fraudulent attempt to con the public."

An anti HS2 sign in Whittington, Staffordshire. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

He added that the £50 billion cost was "always too low, and represents the cost if the whole project was built in one year and that year was 2011".

"We know that these costs will continue to escalate. The only answer is to cancel the project and go back to the drawing board right now," he said.

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high speed rail project

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Sir David Higgins: HS2 'vital for the future' of UK

HS2 boss Sir David Higgins has said the project was "vital for the future of the country".He added: "The cost and impact have to be recognised and acknowledged, but so too do the cost and impact of doing nothing.

Sir David Higgins. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

"Without HS2, the people of this country will continue to face the failures of our transport system on a daily basis.

"This contingency has pushed the price of phase one, from London to Birmingham, up to £21.4 billion with £3 billion for the trains, while the cost of the second phase, taking the line in a Y-shape to north west and north east England is put at £21.2 billion with around £4.5 billion for the trains."

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high speed rail project

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Labour welcomes greater HS2 connectivity in the north

Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, responding to David Higgins’ report into HS2, has welcomed his strong focus on the steps the Government needs to take to get High Speed 2 back on track and ensure value for money".

David Higgins has made it clear that there are significant savings to be made if David Cameron gets a grip of this project and stops all these delays.

On Phase Two, we are glad that more work will be done to link HS2 with future rail investment and that the greater focus we have been calling for on connectivity between our northern cities has replaced the Government’s previous take it or leave it approach.

That is how we ensure the maximum benefits for the whole country from this project while we pressure the Government to keep the costs down.

– Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary
National

HS2 boss to say he would like to start second phase

Launching his report in Manchester, Sir David Higgins, HS2's recently appointed chairman, will say that he would like work to start on the second phase at the same time as the first phase.

An anti HS2 sign in Whittington, Staffordshire. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The second phase, taking the line in a Y-shape to north west and north east England is set for completion around 2032/33. He is also expected to recommend a completely new station at Euston - the site for the line's London terminus.

Sir David, the former London Olympics supremo who has joined HS2 Ltd after being Network Rail chief executive, is also expected to recommend scrapping plans to link HS2 with HS1, the London to Kent coast Channel Tunnel high-speed line.

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