Does the north need HS2 to be a powerhouse?

A rail industry expert has said HS2 is crucial to making the north prosper and fulfil its potential despite longstanding opposition in the area.

Jim Steer, director of High Speed Rail Industry Leaders, said HS2 would benefit towns and cities that will not have stops, such as Wakefield.

Crofton Against HS2 campaigners protesting outside Crofton Community Centre, where HS2 Ltd staff are organising an information event about the newly-proposed route.

Crofton Against HS2 campaigners protesting outside Crofton Community Centre, where HS2 Ltd staff are organising an information event about the newly-proposed route.

He said the project would go hand-in-hand with improvements to local train services and help improve the region.

Meanwhile, the Express, The Yorkshire Post and other titles across the region are backing the Power Up the North campaign.

The campaign is asking government to deliver on promises that were made in the Northern Powerhouse and for Britain’s main political parties to commit to a package of policy measures to improve the north’s economy.

Mr Steer warned senior Tories like Boris Johnson that “pitting” HS2 against a new line in the North is “a false choice”.

“It needs to be understood that HS2 helps deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail,” he said.

“HS2 is a large-scale project but its costs amount to less than 0.4 per cent of total public spending in the period ahead. And its estimated benefits – which cautiously do not presume a re-vitalised Northern economy – are roughly double its cost.”

But HS2 has been met with hostility from campaigners in the Wakefield district who say it will carve up the countryside, disrupt people’s lives, and offer nothing to residents.

South Kirkby, Brierly, Hemsworth, Kinsley, Newstead, Fitzwilliam, Foulby, Crofton, Sharlston, are among the places that will be affected by the project.

Jonathan Pile, chairman of Crofton Against HS2, said: “Jim Steer, the father of HS2 is getting concerned that the public and now the main political parties are rumbling the lies behind the failing project.

“Politicians in the North ought to demand a strategic review that involves community stakeholders like our campaign, and Yorkshire Transport experts who were ignored by HS2 Ltd and Chris Grayling.

“We support the Power Up the North concept but not failed HS2 that sabotages it.

“Whatever transport plans for the North are made, locals must be consulted, the route must be mitigated and economic and practical plain thinking is needed on a simple viable plan.”