Transport connections linking northern towns and cities shoud be an investment priority in order to make the most out of High Speed 2, a senior figure at the project has said.
HS2 Ltd Phase 2 managing director Paul Griffiths told the conference in Leeds that the policy for Northern Powerhouse Rail, which will connect Liverpool and Hull, needs to be integrated with HS2 Phase 2b, which will go north of the Midlands. The HS2 Phase 2b hybrid bill will be brought before parliament in 2019.
He said: “We need to build Northern Powerhouse Rail into HS2 2b policy, we need to be doing Northern Powerhouse Rail at the same time.”
This approach was echoed by other speakers at the Transport for the North Summit, who also pushed for greater connectivity for smaller towns and connections between where people live and work.
Referring to the disenfranchisement that has been used to explain the regional split in the Brexit vote, Hull Trains managing director Will Dunnet said the connectivity focus should not only be on big cities and towns, saying “we can’t allow that to happen in the rail industry.”
He said: “We have to make sure that some of those smaller conurbations are connected. It is important we join up the planning and join up the debate.”
Network Rail strategy and planning director for the north Graham Botham said making the most of HS2 in the region is one of the top investment priorities.
He told the summit: “[We need] to work together to get the best out of High Speed 2 arriving in the North.
“Over 50% of trains running on HS2 lines will run onto the existing network and we have to work together to make sure that we provide the best opportunity to get the best out of those services…and connections between HS2 stations and where people want to go, where they live and where they work.”