99 per cent business support for Northern Powerhouse Rail – The Yorkshire Post says

TODAY’S survey revealing the overwhelming level of support for high-speed rail in the North is even more impactful and powerful because it is the collective view and voice of 5,000 businesses in the region – the very entrepreneurs who know what is required in order to create a new generation of jobs.

Businesses across the region have given their backing to Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Businesses across the region have given their backing to Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The result is overwhelming – 99 per cent respondents believe Northern Powerhouse Rail, a new line across the Pennines, will raise productivity and 85 per cent say this £39bn scheme will boost inward investment. Tellingly, three-quarters of firms say political support will have an impact on their future growth plans.

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Yet, while this re-enforces the case that continues to be made by political and civic leaders, it is also another reminder that the business case for HS3, which will determine whether Government support is forthcoming or not, is dependent on HS2 being built to Leeds and Manchester. It is because both schemes intend to utilise the same state-of-the-art infrastructure.

This is a key point as Tory leadership contenders, like Boris Johnson, adopt a more sceptical stance on HS2 in order to win the support of Tory activists in the Home Counties who remain opposed to high-speed rail and do not appreciate that both projects are inter-related and critical if future capacity is to be increased on a national rail network which is already operating at peak capacity.

It is not supposed to be a political pick ‘n’ mix. It is about the future potential of the North. And the very least that the 15 million people who live and work in the North deserve is clarity from those who now aspire to lead them.