I am not for one moment suggesting that HS2 will solve all these problems alone, but it can and must play an important role as part of a wider strategy. As I said on Second Reading:
“My vision for HS2 is not as an end in itself, benefiting only businesses and commuters, but as a catalyst for the radical rebalancing of our economy”.—[Official Report,
Vol. 635, c. 741-2.]
I firmly believe that we need to shift our economy towards investment-led growth. The choice that has been presented between HS2 and better east-west links in the north is an entirely false one. In any case, Northern Powerhouse Rail services will, at two of their most important regional links, run on HS2 infrastructure.
Some businesses choose to pay almost four times as much per square foot for premises in London and the south because of the poor connectivity in the north. Last year, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research North indicated that planned transport investment in London was two and a half times higher per person than in the north of England, and productivity in London is reported to be some 40% greater than in the north, demonstrating a strong correlation between connectivity and productivity. In its recent report, High Speed Rail Industry Leaders set out why it believes that improved connectivity will lead to greater regional productivity, and enhanced specialisation that will help us to bring about a more balanced economy.