YORK’S link-up to Britain’s new high-speed railway line will safeguard railway jobs and boost the city’s economy, business leaders have said.
York will be connected to the high-speed rail network by a spur running from Leeds past Barkston Ash and Church Fenton to join the existing East Coast main line at Ulleskelf.
The link will allow the York to London journey time to be reduced by about half an hour to one hour 23 minutes, while the York to Birmingham journey will be reduced from 130 minutes to 63 minutes.
It is expected to boost the city’s economy through tourism and encouraging inward investment by making the city more accessible.
James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said the spur to York would secure a future for rail jobs in the city. Had the network gone only to Leeds, he said, the city would lose its rail jobs to Leeds.
“It will mean more tourism and businesses will be more willing to locate out of London,” adding that the infrastructure would also help build international trade.
Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, added that the city must now seize the opportunity that high-speed rail could bring to regeneration projects such as the York Central site.
The plans are expected to create 100,000 jobs nationally, including 60,000 in the cities of the Midlands and the North. This includes up to 10,000 construction jobs, 1,400 in operation and maintenance and almost 50,000 around proposed new stations.
Advisory firm KPMG has predicted that a high-speed rail network across the UK could boost annual economic output between £17 billion and £29 billion in 2040, through better business-to-business connectivity enhancing productivity and employment.
Francis Maude, Minister for Cabinet Office, who was yesterday in York visiting businesses at The Catalyst at the University of York, said: “This is an important part of rebalancing the economy, connecting up the north and south and doing something to tackle the north-south divide.”
He said it was difficult to predict where the jobs would come from. “Just by making Yorkshire and the north of England much more accessible, we believe it will encourage investment.
“By freeing up capacity it’s also going to make it easier for freight services on the main lines to operate effectively.”
Nicola Spence, chief executive of SCY, said: “It’s absolutely essential that businesses in York have ready access to a network of cities including London. We need better access to Leeds, Manchester and to London so that our businesses can be in York, but be easily connected to customers, collaborators and future markets.
“It’s really important, particularly when we want to attract inward investment. Physical connectivity is as important as digital connectivity.
“Ideally we would want York to be part of the main Y-shaped network but at the moment it isn’t. Our businesses and politicians have argued very effectively that it’s definitely part of the spur scheme which connects with the Y-shaped network.
“The fact that York is specifically mentioned in the announcement as this spur shows how important the economy in York is, not just in the North of England but nationally.”
Bringing commercial centres closer
High speed rail will be an “engine for growth” that could create at least 100,000 jobs, David Cameron claimed as the Government unveiled the planned route of extensions to two northern cities.
Officials say the £32.7 billion project will create at least 100,000 jobs.
The Department for Transport said there would be five stops on the 211-mile Y-shaped extension northwards from Birmingham – scheduled to be completed in 2032, six years after the first phase.
• Manchester - alongside the existing Piccadilly station
• Manchester Airport - interchange by the M56 between Warburton Green and Davenport Green
• East Midlands - at Toton, between Nottingham and Derby and one mile from the M1
• Sheffield - at Meadowhall shopping centre
• Leeds - at New Lane in the South bank area connected to the main station by walkway.
A proposed spur to Heathrow has been put on hold pending the results of Sir Howard Davies' review of future airport capacity – which is not due to give a final report until the summer of 2015.
Instead passengers heading to the world’s busiest airport will have to change on to the new London east-west Crossrail service for an 11-minute transfer.