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HS2 will boost Worcester's train services, says Government
THE £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail-link will help improve Worcestershire's must-criticised train services, the Transport Secretary has revealed.
Patrick McLoughlin has revealed for the first time that Worcester can expect to benefit once the new London to Birmingham stretch is in operation.
During a House of Commons debate, he said it will "free up capacity" and allow for faster trains in the region, including the London to Worcester line.
It follows a report from KPMG last year, which revealed Worcestershire's economy is set to benefit from up to £375 million of new investment once the link reaches the Midlands in 2026.
It also comes just a month after Mid-Worcestershire MP Sir Peter Luff railed against poor links from the county to the south.
Mr McLoughlin was responding to questioning from Worcester MP Robin Walker on Monday, who intervened in a statement updating politicians on the HS2 plans.
Mr Walker said: "Can the secretary of state reassure my constituents that nothing in this statement will preclude investment in delivering faster services between London and Worcester and addressing the absurdity that a journey or just over 130 miles, which took less than two hours in 1910, takes more than two-and-a-half hours today."
Mr McLoughlin said HS2 would free up capacity and create a knock-on affect for operators to improve services, including those serving Worcester and London.
After the debate Mr Walker said: "One of the things I've been trying to ensure is that HS2 isn't taking money away from other much-needed rail improvements.
"I want to make sure we are getting something out of the equation, so the positive response is very welcome.
"I'm broadly in favour of HS2 based on those assurances."
Earlier this month, Mr McLoughlin admitted that legislation needed to build the high-speed rail project would not become law before the next general election in 2015.
After 2026 the plan is to extend it towards the north, taking in Leeds and Manchester on two tracks by 2033.
The Government says once complete it will reduce journey times from Birmingham to the capital to just 40 minutes.
But the Labour Party has refused to back it, saying it cannot sign a "blank cheque" for the project due to concerns over the estimated costs.
The Government has put £14 billion aside to avoid getting into a financial mess if the bill spirals, but future delays could see it go further.
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