England

HS3 rail for northern England 'will happen', says MP

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Media captionHS3 'will happen' in north of England, says Northern Powerhouse minister

High-speed rail lines across the north of England, from Liverpool to Hull, "will happen", the Northern Powerhouse Minister has said.

Jake Berry told the BBC the government is committed to improving transport links in northern England.

When asked by a BBC reporter whether HS3 will happen, he replied "yes."

It comes as former Chancellor George Osborne wrote in the Financial Times urging Theresa May to commit to the scheme.

Mr Berry said: "What we've seen... is a government who's recognised the problem, launched the Northern Powerhouse project just three years ago and is determined to improve transport across the north, actually so we can see our economy grow..."

But he did not disclose details including timescales for the project.

Mr Berry made the comments while on a visit to Hull to see the city's regeneration work.

In Tuesday's Financial Times, Mr Osborne said: "Northern Powerhouse Rail, or HS3, must be included in the next stage of the government's high-speed network."

He said it would help the prime minister to "relaunch her premiership" and that a "full-blown attempt to rebalance the economy of Britain" was needed.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Former Chancellor George Osborne launched the Northern Powerhouse project during his time at the Treasury, he also approved the roll out of high-speed rail lines across the country

More than 70,000 people have signed a petition calling for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to back the rail improvements, also called Northern Powerhouse Rail, and to give transport authorities in northern England the same powers as they have in London.

Meanwhile, 50 business and civic leaders from across the north of England are set to hand a letter to the government later demanding an increase in transport spending.

Drax Power chief executive Andy Koss, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce chief executive Clive Memmott and York College principal Alison Birkinshaw are among the signatories.

In the letter, published in the Yorkshire Post, they wrote: "Connecting our great cities of the north with a world-class, higher-capacity rail network is not only fundamental to the success of the Northern Powerhouse, it is fundamental to the success of the entire country.

"We are calling on you to back this success and back NPR."

Last month, the government scrapped the planned electrification of railway lines in Wales, the Midlands and the north of England, prompting anger from local authorities and businesses.

Days later, Mr Grayling backed proposals for Crossrail 2 - a north-east to south-west railway in London - sparking further fury from political leaders outside the capital.

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