BUSINESS leaders in Huddersfield have spoken out against a decision to halt plans for a direct high-speed rail link between Yorkshire and London.
The Lockwood-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said it “strongly opposed” alternative proposals for a link which would first call at Manchester before reaching Leeds.
Supporters of the direct high-speed link claim the so-called Y-shaped network stopping at Sheffield and Leeds could generate more than £30bn of benefits for Yorkshire and the north-east of England.
Transport chiefs have already voiced their concern that the alternative “reverse S-shape” network snaking back and forwards across the country to Yorkshire would nullify any benefits.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is due to announce shortly the government’s preferred high-speed rail (HSR) route.
Steven Leigh, head of policy at the Mid Yorkshire chamber, said the Leeds City Regional Transport Panel, which represents the interests of West Yorkshire council areas including Kirklees, had made a strong case for a Y-shaped network.
Such a network would connect more people and places and deliver faster journey times as well as remedying “imbalances” in the northern economy, he said.
A package of supporting economic development and upgrading the existing East Coast Mail Line would ensure maximum benefit from investment in HSR.
Mr Leigh said: “It is essential that the proposals for high speed rail should include a direct route to Yorkshire.
“The Mid Yorkshire chamber strongly urges the Secretary of State to confirm the direct routing to our region in the announcement which is expected imminently on the future of HSR.
“The direct routing to Leeds of HSR is essential to the continued economic development and wellbeing of our region.”