HS2 report shows East Anglia is “neither fish nor fowl” when it comes to transport policy

Head and shoulders of MP Keith Simpson

Head and shoulders of MP Keith Simpson - Credit: Colin Finch

East Anglia is 'neither fish nor fowl' when it comes to transport policy, a Norfolk MP has said in the wake of a new report into plans for the controversial high-speed rail link.

The new HS2 chairman David Higgins, who has published a new dossier into the controversial new North-South link, cited figures which show that just 11pc of transport spending in 2010/11 was in the East, compared to 25pc in the North and 45pc in London and the South East.

Broadland MP Keith Simpson said: 'What I find fascinating about this report is not just, as it were, the arguments around why HS2 should go ahead, but what it reveals about transport in other parts of the UK. 'Particularly again, in East Anglia, we are neither north nor south. It is why we, the Norfolk MPs, should really push the government on this.

'We are not the worst, but what I think is fascinating about the north-south rail link report is that we are neither fish nor fowl in East Anglia or the South West. For anybody from the East looking at it, it is very revealing indeed.'

A rail taskforce of MPs, business bosses and rail leaders is working on plans to improve the line between Norwich and London, but there has not yet been a firm commitment of what work will be done, and when it takes place.

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The Treasury is also being lobbied to back proposals to dual the A47 and A12 roads, with a study due to report back later this year.

Chancellor George Osborne backed proposals to bring forward by six years the planned extension to Crewe of the HS2 high-speed rail link between London, the Midlands and the North of England yesterday.

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The move, which would see the first trains running on the Birmingham-Crewe section by 2027, was a key recommendation of a report by HS2 Ltd chair Sir David Higgins.

Mr Osborne said he 'welcomes and supports' the idea and asked HS2 Ltd to draw up firm proposals. And he also backed Sir David's call for a more comprehensive redevelopment of Euston station, in the borough of Camden, which will form the London terminal of the line.

But the Chancellor made clear there would be 'no increases' in spending limits on the £50 billion project.

The Higgins report said a new station at Crewe in Cheshire should be completed by 2027, six years ahead of schedule, and that phase 2 - taking the line north from Birmingham in a Y-shape to north-west and north-east England, could be finished by the end of 2030 - three years earlier than planned.

In response, Mr Osborne said: 'Sir David's proposals would see huge benefits delivered to the North six years sooner than planned through a new hub at Crewe, creating more growth and rebalancing the economy in line with our long-term economic plan.

'I welcome and support this, and that's why we have asked HS2 Ltd to work up firm proposals for his recommendations. I also support the proposal for significant regeneration of Camden through a proper redevelopment of Euston station, something I said recently was worth doing.

'As Sir David says, HS2 is essential to the future of this country and will help fulfil the Government's long-term plans to create a balanced and more competitive economy across the UK. But we must be conscious of the price, and there will be no increases to the overall spending envelope set for HS2 at the last spending review.'

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