Rail link jobs plea boost

COUNCIL leaders are warning that towns across Greater Manchester will lose out on hundreds of thousands of jobs if plans for a £32bn high-speed rail network are scrapped.

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese has warned the city alone will lose out on 60,000 jobs if the scheme gets knocked back.

With the government’s consultation on the proposed network set to close on Friday, Sir Richard said the investment, which has been backed by business and council leaders across the county, including Wigan’s chief, Lord Smith, would create substantial employment throughout the country.

The ‘bullet trains’ would cut journey times from Manchester to London from 128 minutes to 73 minutes.

New research commissioned by Manchester Council, Leeds, Birmingham and other cities due to benefit from the link-up, claimed the project would bring 60,000 jobs to Manchester and more than 400,000 across Britain’s major cities.

However, the plans have faced opposition from residents’ groups along the proposed route.

The first phase of the high-speed network to Birmingham would open in 2026, with an extension to Manchester up and running by 2032.

Sir Richard said: “We welcome the government’s continuing commitment to the project, despite the opposition to the plans.

“It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the rail network in this country.

“But, more than that, it will unlock much-needed jobs and investment and help rebalance the economy to ensure that opportunity is open to all.”

The report was published by economics agency Volterra on behalf of the Core Cities Group, which campaigns on behalf of cities