HS2’s central long-term contribution to economic growth outside London will be to boost the availability and accessibility of jobs. This I believe will work in 3 ways.
Firstly by improving general connectivity across the county. Currently the journey from Leeds to Nottingham by train takes 2.5 hours travelling at an average speed of 36 mph. The journey time will reduce significantly with HS2 and will enable much better commuting and therefore employment opportunities. Proximity to London’s anchor economic and political institutions and international gateways has no doubt underpinned strong economic growth across parts of the South-east of England and HS2 will enable this to expand outwards.
Secondly, greater connectivity will support the development of specialism in the economies of the North and Midlands by creating closer working opportunities for skilled workers and shared R&D and knowledge pools which will increase productivity. It will also be easier for supporting professional services to develop across the North and Midlands rather than radiating out of London.
Thirdly, each of the cities with an HS2 station have now been galvanised into producing significant development plans around their stations and certainly in West Yorkshire we are working with all centres to expand this out so there will be a consistent renaissance of our Town and City centres which are key drivers of jobs growth.
We argue that many of these benefits will happen axiomatically with the arrival of HS2 infrastructure unless local transport links are significantly improved. There must be clearer picture about service patterns, especially the deployment of ‘Javelin’ style trains that can utilise sections of HS2 but serve key centres not directly on the principal route.
Councillor for Kippax and Methley Ward, Leeds City Council
Chair of the West Yorkshire Integrated Authority