NORTHERN POWERHOUSE: Lancashire's '˜key role in the future'

'‹'‹A government minister has reassured Lancashire residents that the county will not be left behind as new transport infrastructure strengthens the Northern Powerhouse.
PLANS: High-speed train travel will slash journey timesPLANS: High-speed train travel will slash journey times
PLANS: High-speed train travel will slash journey times

The comments came during debate in Westminster secured by South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy.

During a wide-ranging debate, Ms Kennedy and other Lancashire MPs sought to make sure that the county was an integral part of any future transport plans for the North.

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Ms Kennedy said she accepted that the “great northern cities” of Manchester and Liverpool were forging ahead.

She added: “Lancashire also has a role to play in the important task of balancing the economy and strengthening our industrial base.

“I, for one, do not want to see Lancashire lose out at the expense of our larger urban neighbours.”

Other MPs raised concerns about “delays” to HS2 and specific details of the route and how it might link up to Preston.

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Transport Minister Andrew Jones said HS2 was actually being accelerated.

He said: “Lancashire will benefit significantly from our plans for HS2. Phase 2a to Crewe, which will bring the project forward by six years, will result in the benefits from classic compatible services arriving in Lancashire by 2027. The completion of phase 2 will bring journey times between London and Preston down from the current 128 minutes to 77 minutes by 2033.”

Ms Kennedy also asked about plans to build a new bridge over the River Ribble cited in the county’s own transport prospectus.

She said there were “compelling economic reasons for building the new bridge”, and asked it it could be brought forward from at least a decade in the future.

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Mr Jones said it was a local scheme and the matter rested with Lancashire County Council.

Mr Jones added later: “I hope that I have managed to convince members that this is not a forgotten corner of the north—very far from it. It clearly has strong and powerful advocates who have developed a good reputation for championing it already.

“We cannot deliver a strong northern powerhouse without a strong Lancashire—and I say that as a proud Yorkshireman.”