HS3 Plans Could Benefit Northern Business

Sir David Higgins Has Backed Plans For A HS3 Rail Link In The North


Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

Sir David Higgins, the man in charge of the High-Speed 2 (HS2) rail scheme, has given his backing to plans for a HS3 link between Manchester and Leeds - something that could have significant benefits for businesses based in the north.

The construction of a new, faster railway to connect the two cities could see journey times from Manchester to Leeds decrease significantly, from 48 to around 26 minutes.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Sir David explained: "If you look at the two huge cities...less than half a per cent of the people in each city travel to the other city to work.

"In this competitive world, access to skilled people is crucial for cities to compete and a good, reliable, fast rail service will improve that."

He added improved rail connections in the north of the UK were both "desirable" and "possible", suggesting the proposed HS3 plans could be put into motion in the near future.

Sir David published ideas for a number of ways journey times in the north could be cut in his Rebalancing Britain report, with these also including the construction of a rail tunnel under the Pennines or extra trains being put on each hour.

Prime minister David Cameron has also backed HS3 plans, while chancellor George Osborne stated that improved links between Manchester and Leeds are "as important to the north of England as Crossrail is for London".

In addition, HS3 could see journeys between Liverpool and Leeds, and Manchester to York and Newcastle all being cut significantly.

However, the proposals have attracted some criticism, with Stop HS2 campaigner Joe Rukin highlighting that HS3 could be even more costly than HS2, but Sir David said: "There's no reason why it would be more expensive."

The government has said it will produce a strategy to be released in March, weighing up options for high-speed links in the north, as well as expected costs and a delivery timetable for the project.

Expert Opinion
We certainly welcome the findings of this report and look forward to hearing about the project moving forward. Although the impact will not be felt for many years, it represents a move towards a rebalancing of the economy and this is certainly something which will provide a huge boost for SMEs in the future.

“Greater connectivity is crucial and packed trains with long journey times and poor data connections certainly do not boost productivity or support commerce. It is encouraging and commendable that this issue has been recognised, but it’s also very important that we don’t lose momentum. The Government shouldn’t stand still and we’d like to see action on tackling some of the issues identified in the report now.

“The benefits of HS3 will be felt in the North of England once the line is built, but it is vital that small companies are able to play their role and feed into the supply chain during the construction phase. SMEs have a huge amount to offer here and with such a significant investment due to be made, it is vital that smaller companies do not miss out.”
Steven Beahan, Partner