A LOT OF work needs to be done to ensure Chancellor George Osborne’s plan for a new northern England high-speed rail link succeeds, a Government spokesman told peers.
Lord Popat, a Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman, insisted a lot of work needs to be done on the Chancellor’s vision, in which he indicated an upgraded, high-speed link between Manchester and Leeds should be considered as part of the review of the second phase of the HS2 project.
Lord Popat also told peers initial proposals for the so-called HS3 project, including options on route, timescales and cost, would be presented by the time of the Autumn Statement later this year.
Labour questioned if the Government had made a commitment to build HS3 or whether Tatton MP Mr Osborne used a visit to a Manchester museum to make an announcement close to the general election to bolster support in Tory-held constituencies.
Shadow transport spokesman Lord Rosser pressed further about the certainty of the proposal.
He asked: “Is the commitment from the Government a commitment to build HS3 or is it 10 months from an election simply an announcement to look at the case for HS3 from a Chancellor with a northern constituency, speaking at the Museum of Science and Technology in Manchester, and worried about whether the Conservatives will hold onto seats like Calder Valley and Colne Valley?”
Lord Popat replied: “The Chancellor has set out a vision for how to unlock economic potential of our northern cities. Something remarkable has happened in our northern cities in the last 30 years, they’ve done very well.”
He went on to explain HS2 had been widely discussed in the Lords and further details to justify a business case for HS3 would be reported by HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins.