Responding to the government’s announcement that HS2 will go ahead, North West Regional Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Chris Manka, said:
"It is welcome that at long last a decision has been made to proceed with HS2, although we naturally have some concerns about the proposed future review for onward connections to Manchester and elsewhere.
“What we don’t want to see is the wider Northern area merely getting the leftover crumbs from the plate, and ultimately a second class system compared to the south. We are desperately in need of a ‘levelled up’ railway system, with much greater capacity, and vastly improved connectivity east/west, that will help deliver more sustainable travel for all.
“Government and local stakeholders must now ensure that whatever HS2 ultimately looks like here, that we also get a future proof system able to meet the needs of users whichever direction they are travelling.”
On the announcement of other investment in transport infrastructure, Chris Manka added: "It is pleasing to see a focus on bus transport as well as rail. In many areas buses are the only form of public transport, and investment will lead to more frequent and reliable services, making it easier for people to visit town centres and high streets.
"Plans for green transport modes such as more cycle lanes could also aid greater footfall on the high street. It will, of course, be important to make sure these works are carried out in the best way to minimise disruption to trade and don’t actually hinder rather than help.
"Northern Powerhouse rail would bring a much-needed, faster and more reliable service across large parts of the north of England, which will be good for productivity, investment and the wider economy.
"The ambition to reopen some local rail lines to passengers opens the way not only to increasing connectivity, but also using the nature of smaller projects to prioritise smaller suppliers and contractors in the upgrade process."