Legal bid to put Manchester high-speed rail links on a faster track

Legal bid to put Manchester high-speed rail links on a faster track : Government ministers plan to introduce a bill in the Queen’s speech tomorrow to pave the way for future laws to get the project started

A new legal framework for Manchester’s £32bn high-speed rail line aimed at speeding up its passage through Parliament is expected to be unveiled in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow.

Government ministers plan to introduce a rarely-used Parliamentary procedure called a ‘paving Bill’ – so called because it would pave the way for future legislation needed to get the project started.

The Bill would mean that the government can get quicker access to the spending powers it needs to get on with the scheme.

It would also specify when the line will be built – removing any doubts about whether it will actually happen.

But the line is still not expected to arrive until 2032, despite calls from Greater Manchester MPs for it to be pushed through sooner.

Sources say the government wants to send a signal to investors that it is committed to delivering the project.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said earlier this year that a ‘paving Bill’ could give the government spending powers sooner and would allow it to get started on the design work for the project more quickly.

He said at the time: “High speed rail is an engine for growth that will help drive regional regeneration, secure economic prosperity and support tens of thousands of jobs in Manchester and across Britain.

“It is vital we press ahead with delivering this crucial project as quickly as possible.”

The government announced plans to bring super-fast bullet trains to Manchester earlier this year, with new stations planned at the airport and next to Piccadilly station in the city centre.

It would cut journey times from Manchester to London to just 68 minutes.

The bill could unlock cash for regeneration around the stations. It would also mean that preparatory work could start – ensuring that the expected arrival of the line does not fall behind schedule.

Mike Blackburn, chairman of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said proposals for the paving Bill were first discussed earlier this year. He said: “We’ve always said that we’d like to see the second, northern phase of HS2 delivered sooner than currently set out.

“We hope that this legislation can be used to bring forward the delivery schedule in order that the substantial economic benefits of HS2 for the north can be unlocked in the near future.”

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Source : manchestereveningnews

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