THE heads of 10 universities in the North have add their voices to calls on the Government to speed up the delivery of the proposed new high speed rail line.
The vice-chancellors - including three from Yorkshire - say the HS2 line is needed to unlock the North’s economic potential.
On current timetables services on the Yorkshire stretch of the proposed line connecting Leeds and Sheffield with Birmingham and London are unlikely to start before the mid-2030s.
Professor Susan Price, vice-chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, said: “The UK has one of the most successful higher education sectors in the world.
“However, in order to deliver a network of world leading colleges and universities across the North and Midlands, we need to invest in world leading infrastructure to facilitate the knowledge sharing and talent attraction that colleges and universities rely on.
“The single most important piece of this transport infrastructure jigsaw is a high speed network, improving links between key cities.
“By linking centres of professional excellence, we can further strengthen our partnerships with business and industry, boost investment, skills and expertise and ensure that our cities can compete with European rivals such as Barcelona, Lyon, Munich and Milan, who have already invested heavily in their rail links”.
Northern council leaders are drawing up transport plans due to be presented to the Government in March which are likely to make the case for the Leeds-Sheffield stretch of HS2 to be built earlier.
This would allow services through Yorkshire to start earlier while the new line could also form part of a proposed fast transpennine link connecting Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.