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Thursday, 02 October 2014

New high-speed rail link will benefit west Cumbria, claims minister

A minister has pledged that the HS2 high-speed rail link will boost west Cumbria, even though it is coming no nearer than Manchester.

The claim comes from Transport Minister Simon Burns who was responding to a parliamentary question from Copeland MP Jamie Reed.

The Labour MP asked what estimate had been made of the economic benefit of HS2 to west Cumbria.

Mr Burns replied: “Phase two of HS2 will transform journey times, capacity and connectivity between major cities of the north, midlands and London enabling northern regions to fulfil their economic potential.

“Journey time improvements will be possible from new classic-compatible high speed trains serving Cumbria. “HS2 will also free up space for additional commuter, regional and freight services on the West Coast Mainline offering more opportunity for services to meet local needs.”

He added: “Latest estimates published in August 2012 suggest HS2 will deliver net benefits of £64bn including over £15bn in wider economic impacts.

“If local areas seize the opportunity offered by HS2 these benefits could be greater.

“HS2 Ltd will undertake further work to assess the sub-national, regional and local economic impacts of HS2.”

Ministers say the project will create 100,000 jobs and cut the journey time from Manchester to Birmingham to 41 minutes, and from Manchester to London to one hour eight minutes – almost half the present times.

Many Conservative MPs are opposed to the £32.7bn link because it will go through their rural constituencies.

However, it will be some time before the line becomes a reality.

Work is not due to start on the London-to-Birmingham section until 2017, with the whole route completed by 2033.

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