George Osborne Has Urged the PM for an 'HS3' in the North of England

By Tom Pritchard on at

It's no secret that a lot of the country's money gets funnelled into areas in around London. That's where a significant chunk of the population are, and where a lot of big business is, so it gets priority over everywhere else. Now former chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, has called on Theresa May to skip tradition and launch a high-speed rail line connecting Liverpool and Hull.

Osborne claims that a "full-blown attempt to rebalance the economy of Britain" is needed, and a line he's calling HS3 will help address that.

During his time in government Osborne had launched the Northern Powerhouse initiative, with the intention of boosting economic growth in the north of England. However in the Financial Times he accused Theresa May's advisers of being part of a "systematic attempt to eradicate all mention of the initiative".

Osborne still chairs Northern Powerhouse, which is launching a campaign for the new high-speed line, starting with a line crossing the Pennines. he admits that the project won't be cheap, but will help transform the economy. The Conservative party seem very unenthusiastic about spending public money, but unlike speeding up the renovations of a stupid clock the idea of better connecting British cities is a good idea.

The initial Pennines line is estimated to cost £7 billion, though Osborne claims spreading the cost over multiple years can ease the strain on the Department of transport's budget. He also noted that the distance between Manchester and Leeds is shorter than the London Underground's Central line (the red one), so there's no real reason why it couldn't be done.

Osborne's words are not without controversy, however, with union leaders accusing him of hypocrisy and starving Northern services of funds during his time in government.

Plans for 'HS3' would follow on from the existing HS2 line, which aims to better connect Birmingham and London before splitting off to Manchester and Leeds. Northern Powerhouse's plans would, however, require the government to redesign second phase of HS2 and 'remodel' four junctions so they can be used for further connections.

Last year Theresa May promised to press ahead with the project, which was approved in George Osborne's final budget as Chancellor. While he might not be in government anymore, he insists that the project is beyond one government or PM, and would help Theresa May relaunch her premiership.

Connecting cities is a good thing, especially when transport systems in the UK are nowhere near as good as they could be. And personally I feel that any work that would force Northern Rail to get its shit together is well worth any cost. [Financial Times via BBC News]

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