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MP backs HS2 rail upgrade as he laments 'nightmare' Cheshire train journeys

Graham Evans reckons HS2 will complement other transport projects

parliamentlive.tv Graham Evans MP, speaking in a Westminster Hall debate arguing the case that HS2 would benefit Weaver Vale, Runcorn and Widnes.
Graham Evans MP, speaking in a Westminster Hall debate arguing the case that HS2 would benefit Weaver Vale, Runcorn and Widnes.

An MP has banged the drum for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail upgrade in a speech in Westminster Hall.

Weaver Vale Tory Graham Evans said the project was ’vital’, adding that spending on other travel infrastructure should complement it.

He said traffic volumes have ‘increased beyond recognition’ to 17bn miles travelled on roads in 2015-16 and 62bn miles by rail passengers.

The MP branded train journeys from Northwich to Widnes and Runcorn a ‘virtually impossible’ ‘nightmare’, and said Liverpool-bound travellers must first ‘trundle’ to Stockport then back again via Widnes.

He said boosting rail capacity would take 10m vehicles off UK roads, reducing pressures on routes such as the M56 and that HS2 would mean more commercial freight could be carried by trains.

Mr Evans also criticised the state of parts of the North West’s ‘Victorian’ railways.

HS2 if completed will connect the West Midlands and Crewe and is expected to cost more than £55bn.

CGI of the proposed HS2 line. HS2/PA Wire

Mr Evans said Crewe could experience the economic boom seen in the French town of Lille, which he said had ‘flourished’ since it connected to high speed rail, adding that recruitment in Chester has been stymied by poor commuter rail connections.

He said: “Connectivity between our cities is vital for the development of the Northern Powerhouse and the re-balancing of our economy.

“North West businesses will have better access to specialised services, a larger workforce and greater opportunities to offer their services to the capital.

“Likewise, shorter journey times are vital for business-related journeys, and connections with London alone could bring £4bn of benefits to the North West.

“Over the next few decades, High Speed 2 will play a fundamental role in reshaping our economy.

“Some 70% of jobs created by High Speed 2 are forecast to be outside London.

“I am sure all hon. Members will agree that we want those jobs in the North of England and Scotland.”

Mr Evans added: “We must look at High Speed 2 not in isolation but as part of an overall strategy for improving connectivity throughout the North West.

“We must take steps to ensure that spending on other areas of transport infrastructure is, as much as possible, complementary to the High Speed 2 network so we can replicate Lille’s success at hubs such as Crewe in the North West of England.”

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