Stockton's Infinity Bridge

North East Councils have say at High Speed Rail Summit in Glasgow

12 November 2012

The Association of North East Councils is to make a strong case for high speed rail to extend beyond Leeds and Manchester to the North East of England and Scotland at a High Speed Rail Summit: ‘Faster and Further: a shared vision for High Speed Rail', which the Scottish Government is hosting in Glasgow on 12 - 13 November.

As Chair of ANEC, Cllr Paul Watson will take part in a panel discussion on the economic and political case for high speed, alongside James Bethell, Campaign for High Speed Rail, David Hodges, Public Affairs Manager, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Stephen Clark, Rail Programme Director, Transport for Greater Manchester.

Senior representatives from across business, local government, enterprise and transport will attend the event, which will focus on a shared vision for High Speed Rail development that can underpin business competitiveness and economic growth across London, the Midlands, the North and Scotland - bringing benefits to business people, commuters, consumers and tourists alike.

ANEC has consistently advocated that high speed rail can fundamentally transform the economic geography of the United Kingdom - providing that what we have is a whole network approach - which links major cities and economic areas.  ANEC has therefore welcomed the UK Transport Secretary's announcement of a study to report early next year on extending high speed rail north of Manchester and Leeds.

At the High Speed Rail Summit, Cllr Watson will highlight that the North East is the only area in England with a positive balance of trade and has a strong and successful advanced manufacturing engineering sector, low carbon technology and renewable energy sector and that councils and business leaders recognise that to achieve our economic vision in these and other areas we need to strengthen our connectivity with national and international markets.

He will make the point that capacity exists for the North East to play a bigger role in UK growth and that efficient transport connections are vital to seize this opportunity. Key economic benefits include a predicted £3.1 billion productivity boost and closer linking of national and international markets which will attract inward investment and generate employment and major tourism opportunities. 

Cllr Paul Watson, Chair, Association of North East Councils, said: "It is critical that the North East and Scotland are linked to High Speed Rail infrastructure and investment right from the outset.  Failure to be connected from the start will undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on our economy, particularly in a time of economic recovery.

"Economic arguments rank as highly in the debate on high speed as those related to faster journey times and increased capacity.  Transport and connectivity are absolutely linked to the economic prosperity and competitiveness of cities so a strong economy in the North East is clearly essential to the UK meeting its objectives for balanced growth.

"It is vital therefore that Scotland and the North East are included in to a high speed rail network in order to fully realise their economic development potential. ANEC is committed to continuing to make this case and to work alongside organisations in Scotland and England with a shared vision for high speed rail."

For further information please contact:
Bethan Airey, Communications Officer, Association of North East Councils on 0191 261 3917 or 07957 823 864; email bethan.airey@northeastcouncils.gov.uk