TRANSPORT chiefs at Lancashire County Council have welcomed the government announcement to go ahead with the controversial HS2, the high speed rail scheme.
In a statement to Parliament on Tuesday, February 11, Boris Johnson set out that after “careful consideration” of the independent Oakervee review, the decision has been taken to proceed with HS2, which could now cost an estimated £106 billion.
Work is due to begin on the first stretch of the line between London and Birmingham within weeks.
Recognising that better East-West connections are a “priority for local leaders”, the Government is to look at how best to accelerate the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail from Manchester to Leeds.
HS2 trains would serve the stations in Preston and Lancaster. According to the HS2 website the high speed station at Preston will be “at the heart of one of Britain’s most networked cities.”
It is estimated that the HS2 service from Preston to London would be 78 minutes as opposed to the current time of 128 minutes.
The HS2 scheme has proved to be controversial because of the cost, and MPs who have constituencies on or near the route have shown concerns.
The cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning at Lancashire County Council, County Councillor Michael Green, believes the HS2 announcement is positive. He said: "HS2 will undoubtedly bring new opportunities for the whole county, by making us a transport hub on the new national high speed network.
"While possible construction could still be a few years away, we're already looking at how we can be in the right position to benefit from HS2.
"Lancashire is already home to world-class companies, especially in advanced manufacturing. It’s vital to have good transport connections to attract highly-skilled workers and create new opportunities for people and businesses who are already here.
"By making it easier for people to come to Lancashire and for us to reach other parts of the country, HS2 would bring many opportunities to create new jobs and bring new economic growth to the county."