Britain to Consider East-West High-Speed Rail Link – Osborne

Britain to Consider East-West High-Speed Rail Link – Osborne

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will consider building an east-west high-speed railway between cities in northern England to help boost economic growth outside London, finance minister George Osborne said on Monday.

Less than a year away from a national election and with his Conservatives trailing by six points in the polls, Osborne’s call to build a “northern powerhouse” will be seen as an attempt to boost the party’s appeal in the opposition Labour party’s northern heartlands.

“The cities of the north are individually strong, but collectively not strong enough … So the powerhouse of London dominates more and more. And that’s not healthy for our economy. It’s not good for our country,” Osborne said in a speech in the northern English city of Manchester.

“We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns here in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west … That means considering a new high-speed rail link.”

Osborne said the potential link between Manchester and Leeds could be based on the existing rail route, but with trains running faster and with new tunnels and infrastructure.

A connected network of northern cities will provide better jobs and opportunities, Osborne said.

“In the modern knowledge economy, businesses and entrepreneurial types want to flock together more than ever. To form clusters where they can learn from and spark off each other.”

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