High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from the North West Chamber of Commerce (HSR 02)


The Government is currently carrying out a consultation on the development of a High Speed Rail (HSR) network connecting London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. This will be one of the largest building projects for a generation providing an opportunity to fundamentally reshape and improve the rail network. Based on current research and business opinion of Chamber members across the North West we highlight the scheme's economic importance below and lend the support of sixteen regional chambers to the programme.

Over 40,000 jobs will be created

Around 9,000 would be created on the route's construction and a further 1,500 jobs in its operation. Regeneration around the stations would create 30,000 jobs.[4]

£44 billion of economic benefits

The net present value of the economic benefits generated by High Speed Rail is forecast by HS2 Ltd to be £43.7 billion over 60 years.[5]

HSR will help close the North-South economic divide

The North and the Midlands' average GVA per head of the population is 16.3% below the UK average.[6] A high-speed line would improve access to the North West, enhancing opportunities for investment and economic development.

Faster journeys

Speeds of 225 miles per hour would transform journey times, bringing Manchester, Liverpool and eventually Preston and Blackpool to within 100 minutes of London and 80 minutes of Birmingham. This would allow businesses to access wider markets and a larger labour pool through more trains going to more destinations.

Modal shift

This enhanced capacity and connectivity could see as many as six million air trips and nine million road trips a year shift onto rail, freeing up capacity on motorways and enhancing access to, and development of, regional airports.[7]

Additional rail capacity

The West Coast Main Line is predicted to be at full capacity within the next 10 years. Without investment, travel between the North West and London will be restricted and become prohibitively expensive. A national high speed network would transform rail capacity enabling 14 or more additional train services per hour and be designed to accommodate larger and longer trains able to carry up to 1,100 passengers.[8]

Capacity released on existing lines

A new line will allow for significant improvements to freight paths and an increase to commuter services on the existing network.

High-speed rail is cost effective

A conventional new line will cost only 9% less than a high speed line but provide none of the journey time improvements, thus having a lower benefit-cost ratio.

Upgrading existing lines is not feasible

The West Coast Main Line has recently been upgraded to enable trains to run at 125mph. This upgrade has provided only limited capacity improvements, cost almost £10 billion and caused a decade of disruption to train services.

May 2011

4   (The Daily Telegraph, 21 February 2011). Back

5   (DfT, High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future-Consultation Summary, February 2011, p. 10). Back

6   (ONS, Regional, sub-regional and local gross value added 2009, 8 December 2010, p. 1) Back

7   DfT, High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future-Consultation Summary, February 2011, p. 13). Back

8   DfT, High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future-Consultation Summary, February 2011, p. 13 Back

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Prepared 8 November 2011