Chancellor calls for high-speed rail between Manchester and Leeds

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne believes the UK needs to build a new high-speed railway line between Manchester and Hull to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ to rival London.

Speaking at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester today (June 23), Osborne said that a third high-speed railway was needed connect northern cities in the east and west.

Osborne said: “Today, I want us to start thinking about whether to build a new high-speed rail connection east-west from Manchester to Leeds. Based on the existing rail route, but speeded up with new tunnels and infrastructure.”

The announcement included no timescales or potential funding options.

Osborne added:”Where are people joining the labour market at the fastest rate? The North-West and North-East.

“Where is construction strongest? Yorkshire and Humberside.

“We’ve seen massive investments all over the north. Hitachi, Nissan and Rolls Royce in the North East. The Airport City in Manchester. The new deep water port in Liverpool. Siemens in Hull and East Yorkshire.”

Speaking about the importance of HS2, Osborne said: “We are making it happen. The reality is that HS2 is a vital investment. It’s essential capacity and it will change the economic geography of the country. It will mean that London and Manchester are just an hour apart.

“Of course, there are opponents of the project – just as there were opponents of the original railways. I’ve discovered that almost everything worth doing in politics is controversial.”