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Councils urge Tory leadership candidates to commit to HS2 and NPR

North West councils are urging Conservative leadership contenders to commit to the delivery of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).

Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Liverpool City Region leaders have sent a joint letter to the candidates, stressing the importance of a “coherent rail investment programme” for “both the future prosperity of the North, and to demonstrate that the next Prime Minister will be a strong advocate for, and a true partner with, the North of England”.

The letter is also signed by Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester’s Metro Mayors as well as representatives of Newcastle, Leeds and other northern towns.

With HS2 planned in steps including Phase One, scheduled to bring services from London to the West Midlands in 2026; Phase 2a, with services starting to carry passengers from London to Crewe on the high speed line in 2027; and Phase 2b, extending the high speed network to Manchester and Leeds with services scheduled to begin in 2033, the letter adds: “Recent Conservative governments have been clear that HS2 and NPR need to happen. Yet, while work is already underway to construct Phase One of HS2 and to develop the case for NPR, there remain damaging levels of uncertainty over both the appetite of any future government to approve the necessary funding to see NPR progress to its next phase and to secure the future of HS2 Phase 2b by delivering the Hybrid Bill in timely fashion.

“For the North, the question is not one of ‘either, or’. HS2 and NPR serve different but equally important and complementary markets. This isn’t primarily about costs, but about the strategic economic criticality of the capacity of our rail infrastructure to adequately serve local, regional and national requirements. Even so, without HS2, NPR’s costs will rise and its impact will fall. Without NPR, HS2 will fail to achieve its full potential. The economic case for HS2 relies upon Phase 2b being delivered to the cities of the North, and it is only through the full delivery of both HS2 and NPR that the North can see truly transformative benefits, north to south and east to west.”

Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart, Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid remain in the running to take the helm of the Conservative Party, therefore replacing Theresa May as the Prime Minister.