George Osborne mulls northern England high-speed rail links

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Monday, June 23, 2014

George Osborne.
Image: HM Treasury.

George Osborne, the United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer, is to announce plans today for a proposed high-speed rail link between a number of cities in the North of England as a means to bring about economic development and build a "northern powerhouse" to compete with London.

Osborne says the individual cities in the north of England are strong, but "collectively not strong enough". To remedy this, he is proposing plans be made to create high-speed railways between Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, the latter to link up with High Speed 2, the planned high-speed railway to run between London and Birmingham.

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

The shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, said: "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. [...] 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."