The HS2 is a huge infrastructure project which will completely alter the transport landscape of the UK. The rail structure aims to better connect eight core UK cities, bridge the travel time between North, South, East and West whilst also improving the capabilities of travel to Europe via the HS1.
The HS2 project, which will be a world-class transport gateway, also looks to open a wealth of economic opportunities for both Leeds and the wider Leeds City Region. From attracting more businesses to the area, particularly from overseas, encouraging further investment in the region and positioning the area as a desirable location to live, study and work, the HS2 looks to boost the overall growth capability of the region exponentially.
The current plans would see Leeds main train station, which is the busiest in the North of England, redeveloped to form a hub for both the existing regional and local railway services, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the HS2, forming a bigger and integrated station.
Plans for the HS2 depot, which will maintain and service the trains, is planned to be built at a logistics and manufacturing park, located on the edge of East Leeds. The depot is planned to be built at the Gateway 45 site, which is located next to junction 45 of the M1 at Rothwell, moving from the previously earmarked location of Crofton, near Wakefield, meaning a reduced environmental impact on the local community of the village.
The depot will allow for 24-hour maintenance services for the HS2 to operate, ensuring that the high-speed trains can run between London and the North with minimum delays. The creation of this depot alone looks to create around 125 skilled jobs.
As well as advanced connectivity, the HS2 brings with it the prospect of thousands of jobs, with around 300,000 jobs expected to be created. 41,000 of these are expected to derive from the proposals set out in the plan, 5,000 from construction and a further 40,000 as a result of the broader economic impact of the infrastructure project. The economic potential the HS2 could have on the Leeds City Region is expected to reach around £54bn.
The overarching strategy also sets out plans to position Leeds City Region as an international centre of excellence for light and high-speed rail skills. Highlighting the University of Leeds as a core component in this offering, the institution would create a High-Speed Rail engineering centre of excellence accompanied by a technology park to boost the talent capabilities and offerings of the region. This would allow the area to be a core supplier of support for rail transport construction and engineering.
The HS2 is also expected to benefit the economy through positioning the area as an overall more attractive location generating a significant increase in tourism. Moreover, the repositioning of Leeds as an institute for learning and high-speed rail speciality skills is also expected to contribute to inward investment.
The result of inward investment in the Leeds City Region would see a significant rise in job opportunities and create an environment for students to study undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate qualifications in high-speed rail engineering and technology-based subjects, with state of the art resources.
The hub will also ensure a pipeline of talent for the future, securing the longevity of the rail network and flow of skilled individuals in the region.
Cllr Judith Blake, Leeds City Council leader and West Yorkshire Combined Authority member, said: “HS2 is an incredible opportunity to create something truly transformational to the economy of our city and the wider region.
“It is a very rare chance to bring a wealth of jobs and investment that can be shared by everyone across all our communities, widening our options to work and travel and opening up new skills sectors.
“If this vision gets the financial support it deserves it will empower us and our partners to make sure HS2 drives the biggest boost that has been seen in decades to the economy of Leeds and its neighbours.”
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