Major employers call on PM to back high speed rail projects

A raft of Yorkshire’s biggest employers and business organisations have today written to the Prime Minister and other key Government departments calling for Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 to be delivered in full.

In an unprecedented collective display of determination, leadership at West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, the CBI in Yorkshire and the Humber and the Institute of Directors, along with major employers such as Yorkshire Building Society, Provident Financial, Leeds Bradford Airport and Deloitte have signed the letter to Rishi Sunak.

They are joined by hospital trust leaders, university vice-chancellors, sixth form college principals and other business leaders, all of whom remain convinced of the incredible value both projects would bring to Yorkshire, the North of England and Great Britain.

In total, the leadership of the employers of more than 50,000 people have signed the letter, which has also been sent to the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Grant Shapps.

Its signatories call for those at the top of Government to both deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail in full across the North – including a new station in Bradford – and to recommit to delivering HS2 to Yorkshire.

Both projects have been pledged by successive governments but were mothballed and curtailed by the Integrated Rail Plan, published last year.

With fresh leadership at Number 10 and a new Cabinet established, employers in Yorkshire have issued a fresh appeal to use the projects to help drive economic growth and deliver genuine levelling up for who whole of the UK.

Citing how connecting Bradford to Northern Powerhouse Rail can bring £30bn in added growth to the UK and create 27,000 jobs, as well as how Leeds is a net contributor to the Treasury and as such should be part of the HS2 study, the letter makes the case that delivering these projects can help bolster the entire country’s prosperity.

One extract reads: “We write today to state that, with a new administration in place and with a fresh economic challenge, that this is the perfect opportunity to reconsider bringing HS2 to Yorkshire and delivering a Northern Powerhouse Rail scheme that will connect the whole country and ensure economic growth can continue for generations to come.”

Another states: “Both projects are essential to the economic, and environmental future of the country. As investments in the future, they create new and vibrant economic centres that will contribute massively to the revenues of UK plc, attracting inward investment into the country from across the globe.

“As business leaders here in Yorkshire we write today to offer both our unflinching support for their delivery but to also pledge to work with you in any way required to see them come to fruition. We are united in offering to help ensure their delivery and to cooperate with you fully to make this a reality.”

The letter has also been signed by the leadership board of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, the regional director the CBI Beckie Hart and the director general of the IoD Jon Geldart.

Mike Briffett, president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Integrated Rail Plan’s conclusion to scrap Northern Powerhouse Rail and to not build HS2 to Yorkshire was greeted with widespread dismay amongst Yorkshire’s business leaders.

“As can be seen by the array of major employers that have signed this letter, the desire and case for recommitting to both projects in full remains undimmed.

“We hope that Rishi Sunak and other secretaries of state will agree that these projects represent massive opportunities for all of Britain and lend them unequivocal support.”

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