Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 13:14 UK

Business reacts to fast rail link

By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News

A train leaves Edinburgh Waverley station
The service will serve Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland

Network Rail has proposed a new £34bn ($55bn) high-speed railway line - High Speed 2 - linking Scotland and London.

The line will go via Birmingham and Manchester, getting passengers from Glasgow to London in just two hours and 16 minutes, the rail firm said.

Network Rail rejected alternate routes going via the East Midlands, Yorkshire, or east of England.

Regions that are part of the new route, and those that missed out such as Leeds and Nottingham, give their reaction.

COLIN STANBRIDGE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, LONDON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY

"We are pleased that the framework for high-speed rail between London and Scotland has now been laid out.

"Reducing journey times will make it easier for companies to do business across the country and will boost the UK and London economies.

"It is essential that the new line runs to Heathrow airport, otherwise passengers will continue to use domestic flights as a connecting service to the airport, rather than rail.

"While high-speed rail will deliver significant economic benefits to the UK, it doesn't mean adding an extra runway at Heathrow is any less urgent.

"Businesses desperately need both high-speed rail and more capacity at Heathrow, not one or the other."

RICHARD BRENNAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BIRMINGHAM FORWARD

"The concept is excellent and Birmingham business people welcome it. This rail link is extremely important for the Birmingham economy.

"We are pleased that the route comes directly from London to Birmingham without going via Heathrow.

"It puts Birmingham Airport within 45 minutes of London and should see an increase in passenger numbers at our airport.

"We have the biggest community of business and professional services workers outside London - 320,000 in total - and being only a short time away from the capital will help us win more international business."

GEORGE COWCHER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, DERBYSHIRE & NOTTINGHAMSHIRE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

"We are extremely disappointed - we are rather aggrieved. We have already seen billions spent on the West Coast Main Line, now it is going to be the route of the high-speed line too.

"It would have been more equitable to have moved the route to the east of the West Coast Main Line.

"The Midland Main Line route is very slow at present and something that could have been enhanced by using it as the basis of a high-speed route. The Midland line can also connect across to Leeds and Sheffield.

"We have a campaign group of business leaders in the East Midlands and we have to make the case for another high-speed line.

"It is just that we don't think that the right route has been chosen for this first high-speed route."

ANDREW CARTER, LEEDS CITY COUNCIL CO-LEADER

"When making a decision of what routes High Speed 2 should take, ministers are going to take into account this report by Network Rail.

"But they must also look closely at the findings published last week by [public transport body] Metro and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive which sets out the enormous economic benefits to all the North's main centres of a route via the Sheffield and Leeds city regions.

"We will continue to work with bodies across the north of England... to highlight what could be achieved by a high-speed link and the improvements to existing north-south and trans-Pennine rail routes, which can be delivered significantly more quickly.

"As we have said previously, it is vital that ministers and the Department for Transport plan a whole network that taps into the potential of all our northern cities."

KELLOG'S UK, MANCHESTER

"The Network Rail plans would make a big difference to day-to-day business here at Kellogg's - now getting to London and back for a meeting within the space of a morning could be a reality.

"That's good news for us and the suppliers that we work with who are based in London.

"It's also great news for business in Manchester, just as London is going to be more accessible for us, Manchester will be for those in the South East."

JOHN SHIPLEY, NEWCASTLE CITY COUNCIL LEADER

"It is disappointing that Network Rail has focused on one route from London, West Midlands to the North West as opposed to a whole network approach.

"We cannot lose sight of the fact that this is one piece of work that will help inform the debate.

"We need to appreciate the longer term view of a high speed network across the UK that will be beneficial for all and we will be continuing to make the case for this network."

LIZ CAMERON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SCOTTISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

"High Speed 2 only makes sense if it includes Scotland's Central Belt with the potential prize of a modal shift of 3.5 million journeys a year from air to rail.

"Our High Speed 2 Scotland campaign has fired up people's imagination with the potential economic, environmental and capacity benefits of this major invention in creating a network fit for purpose for the 21st Century.

"Our Parliament may be devolved, but our businesses are not. Business in Scotland does not stop at the north-south divide. We need to ensure tourists and the delivery of our products and services have the best chance of fast, smooth access to our markets."

KEN SUTHERLAND, RESEARCH OFFICER, RAILFUTURE SCOTLAND

"This announcement brings British rail travel into the modern era. It is good news for Scotland's businesses, economy, and rail passengers. A parallel benefit is that it frees up space for rail freight too.

"Scotland will benefit in the long term, but also in the short to medium term too when the first section of the link is built in England.

"That first stretch from London to Birmingham alone will knock an hour off the London to Scotland journey time."



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SEE ALSO
High-speed rail proposal welcomed
26 Aug 09 |  Scotland
New high-speed rail plan unveiled
26 Aug 09 |  Business
High-speed rail link considered
15 Jan 09 |  Scotland
High-speed rail back on agenda
29 Oct 08 |  UK Politics
Tories would scrap Heathrow plan
29 Sep 08 |  UK Politics
Is this the new age of the train?
26 Jun 08 |  Business

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