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Could Northern cities benefit from high speed rail?

George Osborne told the BBC this week that he believes that improved transport links between major cities could allow the north to become a major rival to London. He announced on Monday his ambition to build a high speed rail line, HS3, to connect major northern locations such as Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool – all invidually strong cities which when combined could “take on the world” according to Osborne. This comment follows John Prescott’s vision of a northern “super city” back in 2004 – which was followed by little action by the government. So could this initiative go ahead? And what would that mean for northern cities?

The major northern cities have a combined population of approximately 9 million – a similar number to London, meaning that statistically speaking, the north has potential to rival it’s southern counterpart. However it isn’t just about population. As we recently reported, northern cities have been increasingly thriving economically over the last few years, particularly Salford due to the success of MediaCityUK, and Liverpool, which has been undergoing many major renovation projects. Northern universities are among some of the most popular in the UK and London is no longer the go-to location for large-scale organisations, with many companies such as Amazon, the BBC, and Asda are choosing to take advantage of the lower property costs and potential of northern locations.

In spite of this success, there are little connections between the cities. The journey between Manchester and Leeds currently takes just under an hour, which Osborne believes could be cut down to 30 minutes with a high speed rail. The new trains could travel up to 140 mph as opposed to the current maximum of 90 mph, making it easier for workers, stay-at-home students and investors to get from city to city. Of course the work that would be required for this new high speed line would also create thousands of jobs, boosting the economy even more – a major factor in why so many politicians and business players have backed the decision unanimously.

But will these plans come into fruition? While Osborne sounded confident, and popular opinion is overwhelmingly positive from all parties, there has yet to be any mention of budget or time-scale. Prescott’s statement in 2004 had a similar response, however little was done, and the announcement served only as a way of attracting votes. Many are also worried about the smaller towns and cities between the major destinations, and how they would be affected. What would happen to existing services and stops such as Preston or Huddersfield?

Whether the plans will go ahead remains to be seen, however it is clear that there is a lot of optimism among politicians regarding the future of the north. At Mistoria Group, we have a number of attractive property investments available in the North West. To discuss our investment opportunities, contact us here, or click here to read more about our available properties. If you have any questions or enquiries, don’t hesitate to call us on 0800 500 3015.

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