The D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership has welcomed a new report by HS2 Chairman Sir David Higgins which says building work on the northern section of the £50bn high-speed rail project should be accelerated.
In his new report for the government, called HS2 Plus, he says the second phase of the project, intended to take the line to northern England by 2033, should instead be completed by 2027.
He adds it should run as far as Crewe, 43 miles further north than planned.
Sir David said the Crewe extension was “the right strategic answer”.
The first phase of HS2 is scheduled to link Birmingham and London by 2026.
Under the existing plans for Phase Two, tracks to cities including Leeds and Manchester would be built by 2032 or 2033.
The projected cost of the project is about £43bn – including a contingency of more than £14bn – but this estimate does not include the trains, which will cost about £7bn.
Sir David said HS2 was “vital for the future of the country” and said it could be “a catalyst for fundamental change”.
If his plans to speed up phase two were adopted, he said, “it would deliver the benefits of HS2 – in terms of better services to the north – much sooner”.
Sir David was responsible for ensuring London’s Olympic Park was built on time and on budget as chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority. He has been HS2 chairman since January.
David Ralph, Chief Executive of D2N2, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, said: “Accelerating delivery of Phase Two is positive news as it is something we have been calling for as part of the consultation because it will bring the economic benefits of HS2 to the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire area much earlier.
“The development of High Speed Rail is a one-off opportunity to boost the economy, increasing access to markets in other connected cities and helping them to become more efficient and competitive.
“HS2 is a really key infrastructure improvement and the sooner it is confirmed and delivered the better and to accelerate building work on Phase Two makes perfect sense.
“We would also reinforce the need to accelerate decision-making to secure the necessary funding, which is also likely to save costs in the long term.
“The proposals are underpinned by a strong economic case demonstrating how it will support businesses throughout the D2N2 area, helping them to expand, grow and rebalance the economy.
“D2N2 will be working with all our local partners to ensure HS2 will be a catalyst for regeneration and seek to maximise the opportunity that an East Midlands station brings.
“We appreciate there will be negative impacts for some residents and businesses, and therefore we continue to urge appropriate mitigation to be put in place, but we consider the wider opportunities to the whole of the D2N2 economy are best realised through the earliest possible completion of the route and by accelerating delivery of Phase Two which, pleasingly, is now being suggested by HS2 Chairman Sir David Higgins.”