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George Osborne urges government to commit to HS3
Picture courtesy of HS2 Ltd

George Osborne urges government to commit to HS3

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has called on the government to invest in HS3.

It is a crucial element of the Northern Powerhouse, which the now-Editor of the London Evening Standard was key in establishing back in 2014 to help the north of England become a business hub for the UK.

This morning on BBC Radio 4, Mr Osborne said: “The Northern Powerhouse lives, breathes and exists in the north.”

The former Chancellor wrote in the Financial Times to urge Prime Minister, Theresa May, to invest in the Northern Powerhouse by putting in place the transport links that will connect the north of England to the rest of the country.

About the Northern Powerhouse, he said: “Behind the name lies a compelling concept: if we can better connect the cities of the north, the whole region can attract more business and create more jobs.”

Combining the northern cities together, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield is key to attracting global interest.

HS3 is therefore a significant step in connecting these cities and Mr Osborne said that himself and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) – which brings businesses and civic leaders together to make the north of England more successful – have  called for the government to commit to high speed rail links throughout the north.

Mr Osborne said: “Northern Powerhouse Rail, or HS3, must be included in the next stage of the government’s high speed network.

“Specifically, ministers should include the planning for the future connections when they set out the design for Phase 2b of HS2 later this year, remodelling four junctions to ensure they are complimentary with the Northern Powerhouse Rail proposals, start detailed planning work on the line itself and allocate a long term capital budget.”

It is a costly project, of that there is no doubt, but the former Chancellor insisted that the investment could be spread out over a number of years and the transport budget can absorb this.

Significantly, he believes HS3 would “transform the northern economy,” resulting in seven million extra people and three times the number of businesses are within 90 minutes of one of any northern city.

After the government committed to Crossrail 2 and quietly cancelled projects for the electrification of northern railway lines, HS3 would reassure businesses in the area that the north of England is also key for the economy.

Mr Osborne added: “The Northern Powerhouse fits with Mrs May’s stated objective of building an economy that works for everyone.

“Far be it for me to offer advice to the Prime Minister on how to relaunch her premiership this autumn, but making this big commitment to the north at the Conservative conference in Manchester would not be a bad place to start.”

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