NORTH EAST MISSES OUT ON HIGH-SPEED RAIL BOOST

August 20, 2009 11:28 AM

The lack of high-speed rail link to the north east of England from London could cost the region as much as £32 billion, a new report reveals.

The figures were revealed in a study into the economic benefit of linking both Sheffield and Leeds to the capital by high-speed rail.

"This report shows how much Yorkshire would benefit from a hi-speed rail link to London," said Ron Beadle, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle North.

"Clearly the north east of England's economy could benefit by a similar level and it is vital that a high-speed rail line is extended to the north east.

"There is clear evidence that the north east is missing out on transport funding compared to London and the rest of England.

"London receives more than two-thirds the amount of public spending per head than is spent in this region on roads and railways.

"With improved transport links to London, the north east can really support the UK's economy."

A total of £826 is spent on transport for every Londoner, versus just £235 in the North East, according to the Passenger Transport Executive Group.

Ministers are currently preparing the case for a £7 billion high-speed line from London to Birmingham, known as High Speed 2.

An eventual expansion would go as far as Leeds, it is assumed, with the Government then left to decide on an East or West coast route up to Scotland.

The research, commissioned by Metro and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), found that a faster service from Yorkshire to the capital could bring in £29 billion in transport benefits in addition to between £1.5 billion and £3.1 billion in productivity gains.

According to the study, which was prepared by Arup and Volterra, a high-speed network with links from Yorkshire to London, Heathrow airport and mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel could lift the economy and boost the standing of both Sheffield and Leeds.