Andy Murray, partner and co-lead for infrastructure at RSM, said:
‘The West and Wales Strategic Rail Prospectus sets out a clear vision to maximise the opportunity that HS2 brings by proposing four key transport hubs in the North West. It puts HS2 connectivity in the context of a wider regional transport requirements, including North Wales, which is a valuable and much needed viewpoint to strengthen calls for improved infrastructure across the region.
‘Whilst the prospectus aims to align with Transport for the North’s objectives, the underlying strategy appears to be based on exploiting HS2. However, it doesn’t go into the same level of detail regarding how enhance rail services could exploit Northern Powerhouse Rail proposals (sometimes referred to as HS3 or Crossrail for the North) - which could weaken rather than strengthen the overall lobbying position to fast track these plans to come in ahead or alongside HS2.
‘Similarly, the proposals look south to link HS2 with the Channel Tunnel to enhance continental freight opportunities to the region rather than using the sizeable ports in Liverpool and Hull which have ample capacity. This could be a missed opportunity to maximise the capability we have in the North, whilst improving the rail network between the east and west.
‘As a region we need to ensure a cohesive approach which factors in wider context particular in line with the Northern Powerhouse. Ultimately, a united voice across the whole of the North will resonate louder than smaller disparate parts working individually to achieve similar but local goals.'