Lancaster City Council: 'Rail investment in the north must be a priority'

A review of the HS2 rail project has been cautiously welcomed by Lancaster City Council, as it presses ahead with its calls for the city to be a primary stopping station.

By Clare Kelly
Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 2:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 3:45 pm
Lancaster Railway Station
Lancaster Railway Station

The Government has recently published a review to examine the costs and benefits of the HS2 rail project with a "go or no-go" decision by the end of the year.

Concerns have already been raised about the future of HS2 and the effect that the scrapping of the project could have on infrastructure and the growth of the northern economy.

As the rail network is vital to the economic prosperity and competitiveness of the Lancaster district, the city council is already involved in discussions with local politicians, Lancashire County Council as transport authority for the district, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and major business leaders regarding HS2, and the potential impacts for the district.

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Coun John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for planning and transport, said: “We have huge opportunities for business, leisure and tourism growth in the Lancaster district. It is critical therefore that Lancaster has a HS2 stop so that the full potential of that growth is supported by sustainable transport networks.

“We also have space for crew changes and to switch rolling stock so I would urge the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps to visit us at his earliest convenience and review the opportunities we offer as well as the risks of not doing it.”

The city council passed a motion in December 2018 restating its position that Lancaster’s mainline station should be a primary stopping station served by HS2 trains. This would provide improved access for businesses, organisations, residents and visitors to the Lancaster District.

Its inclusion as a primary stopping station will also bring with it the potential to improve future transport connections to Morecambe and to the proposed Eden Project North (and the multi-million pound tourism economy this will generate) as well as to the world-class Lancaster University.

Lancaster is currently identified as one of the existing railway stations where some HS2 services would stop, but the final timetables for HS2 services are not yet fixed. The recent award of the West Coast Partnership (WCP) rail franchise to First Trenitalia West Coast Rail will start a lengthy process to determine the actual HS2 and WCP service timetable.