'HS2 Ready': think tank report issues call-to-arms on regeneration through high-speed rail

A think tank's three year, pan-European high-speed rail research project concludes that British cities and regions need to seize the opportunity to maximise value from this once-in-a-generation public infrastructure investment project.

High Speed Rail

A new report by the Independent Transport Commission (ITC) setting out the regeneration and transport benefits of high-speed rail (HSR) was launched in Leeds  (10.30, 16 May 2016) with The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport.  

The ITC has been running a major research project investigating how HS2 will shape the country's cities and regions. Following a programme of regional seminars and workshops, the ITC released 'High Speed Rail and Connected Cities: Accessible Places for Growing Economies', at a launch in Leeds Town Hall, with addresses from The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport; Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council; Bridget Rosewell OBE, Commissioner on the National Infrastructure Commission; and Ben Still, Managing Director of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, at Leeds Town Hall, Yorkshire.

The ITC report reviews current proposals for each of the British city regions that will be served by HS2 and provides guidance on ways to enhance the process of urban change by maximising the social and economic benefits that stem from developing an integrated transport system.

It identifies that a number of principles that should be used when planning local transport and redevelopment in order to capture value from HS2 (see note 4 below). The report recommends several actions for national and local Government including:

  • the creation of an HS2 Cities Forum to share proposals and knowledge;
  • an independent review of lessons learned from Phase 1 of HS2 in order to help best plan Phase 2 of the project;
  • a collaborative study to understand the future of the UK's urban economy, including the relationships between the Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands Engine and London; and
  • field visits for city leaders in order to learn how HSR has been adopted successfully by cities elsewhere.

"It is clear from 30 years’ of experience across Europe that high-speed rail can be a catalyst for economic growth, but seldom the driver. To capture the full value of this investment requires a shared vision, collaboration between different interests and a place where people wish to come and stay. The ITC has drawn insights from existing experience to inform and inspire the cities served by HS2 to capture the opportunity and achieve each city's distinctive aspirations while improving livelihoods," commented John Worthington MBE, ITC Commissioner and Chairman of the ITC's HSR panel.

The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, said: "HS2 will bring transformational benefits to the economy of the whole country. It has the potential to generate jobs, stimulate growth and provide the vital capacity and increased connectivity to help rebalance our economy. That is why it’s crucial that cities and regions along the route take full advantage and develop plans that will attract investment and help people access jobs.

“We have already seen places like Birmingham, Solihull and London set out ambitious plans. Meanwhile major companies like HSBC and Burberry are choosing to locate in HS2 cities. We know that good transport doesn’t just people get around, it helps them get on. I welcome this report and the guiding principles it sets out."

Lord Adonis, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission and an ITC Patron, added: "The message from this report is clear – there is no reason why our great cities in Britain cannot enjoy the same benefits from high speed rail that cities in other countries around the world have enjoyed. As the transport infrastructure begins to be built, I recommend that our great cities and their citizens use this ITC report to help plan for the arrival of HS2, ensuring that this major investment better enables our cities to compete on a global stage to the benefit of all."

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: "I am pleased to welcome the Independent Transport Commission, the Secretary of State for Transport, and colleagues from other cities set to benefit from HS2 to Leeds today.”

"HS2 will represent a step-change in terms of connectivity for these cities and the wider regions, and it is vital that we continue to work together to secure the investment needed to make this a reality.”

"We are working with our partners from the business community and neighbouring authorities to make sure HS2 builds on the economic strengths and successes in Leeds and the Leeds City Region. The development of the Yorkshire Hub station will act as a landmark gateway welcoming visitors and business travellers to the city and region, and will be transformative in terms of new jobs, skills, regeneration and business opportunities."

About ITCITC logo

The Independent Transport Commission is Britain's foremost independent land use and transport think tank. The ITC is a research charity committed to providing insight and analysis of the most pressing long-term strategic issues in the fields of transport and land use. The ITC explores the longterm consequences of current policy, considers new approaches and makes recommendations on the way forward. For more information, please see our website: www.theitc.org.uk

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