The delivery of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) are “vital” in the quest to rebalance the country’s economy, according to Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham.
Mr Burnham was speaking after the government’s announcement that there will be an independent review into HS2; due in autumn, it is considering how the project that will connect London, the Midlands and northern England should proceed, and whether or not the costs are viable.
The Prime Minister is known to be concerned that the £56 billion project could cost almost double that amount; the review has been broadly welcomed as something that is wholly expected where public money is concerned.
Greater Manchester’s Mayor is an advocate of “long overdue” upgrades to the region’s “Victorian railway infrastructure.”
He has welcomed the review, and the suggestion that the rail link in the North will be prioritised, but he once again expressed the importance of NPR for the Greater Manchester region.
“while I am not opposed to looking at how we can ensure HS2 delivers value for money, people in the North will be wary of this review.
“That said, I am very encouraged by the suggestion that the crucial east – west link across the North, which HS2 enables, could be prioritised over southern sections of the line.
“I will work with the review team to explore that possibility.
“Both HS2 and NPR are vital if we are to truly rebalance our country’s economy. We need a modern, high speed rail system, like France or Germany, that connects all parts of the country and is fit for the 21st century.
“It feels like we are at a critical moment when the government’s commitment to the North is about to be tested.
“People here are watching closely and will demand nothing less than the Northern Powerhouse that was promised.”