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Osborne calls for high-speed rail network in northern England

Mon 23 Jun 2014

George Osborne has proposed the construction of a high-speed rail link in the north of England.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme prior to a keynote speech on the economic prospects of northern cities, the chancellor of the Exchequer said places such as Manchester, Liverpool and Hull are all strong on their own but "collectively not strong enough". 

As a result, Mr Osborne believes building a high-speed rail link across the north of England could help to establish the region as a "global powerhouse" that can emulate London and "take on the world".

Indeed, he suggested that improved transport links and careful planning could enable cities in the north to be "greater than the sum of their parts".

Mr Osborne believes a high-speed rail project would be likely to cost up to £7 billion, but suggested that updating existing rail lines could lower the bill.

However, the chancellor did not offer any details on how this type of infrastructure development would be funded.

Instead, he said he wanted to "start a conversation" on the proposal and make sure the creation of an east-west link is considered when the second phase of the HS2 project is being reviewed.

During his speech at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, Mr Osborne added that he does not want the north to become a rival to the south.

He said he would rather see the region become its "brother in arms", with the two working together to boost Britain's global competitiveness.

Mr Osborne stressed that bringing the north's cities together would not "happen overnight". However, the chancellor said aiming to make them "bigger and better than anyone can be alone" is a "long-term plan for a country serious about its long-term economic future".

He added that everyone in the UK will benefit if his ambition to create a "northern powerhouse" is realised.

For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact our Transport and Infrastructure Team

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