Bosses backing high-speed rail

Artist's impression of high speed rail train in station.
Artist's impression of high speed rail train in station.
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TOP Sheffield company bosses are among 111 business leaders from across the north of England to sign a letter in support of Britain’s planned £32 billion high speed rail network.

The signatories, including Yuri Matischen, president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, and Simon Carr, managing director of city-based construction firm Henry Boot, believe the new lines will bring ‘real benefits’ to the UK economy.

The other five Sheffield company bosses who have signed the letter are Bill Collington, managing director of Kiveton Park Steel, Andrew Eyre, executive chairman of spring manufacturer TSL Turton Ltd, Tim Hale, chairman of Champion Hire Ltd, Mark Tennant, independent financial adviser at Whitehall Financial Independent Ltd, based on Queens Road and Keith Lauchlan, owner and director of web design firm Utter, based at The Workstation, Paternoster Row.

Other big names who have backed the letter include Greggs chief executive Ken McMeikan, Morrison supermarket chief executive Dalton Philips and JD Sports chief executive Peter Cowgill.

The letter reads: “For too long we have struggled with dated, over-burdened rail services whilst our competitors in Europe and elsewhere have invested in 21st century high-speed rail. That is why we believe the Government is right to develop a new high-speed rail line for Britain. Linking our major cities in the Midlands, the north of England and London will bring real benefits, boosting our ability to recruit staff, move goods and services and access wider opportunities to do business.

“It will bring all the regions of Britain closer together and create much needed capacity. It will free space to transfer more freight to rail which will be good for the economy and good for the environment.

“It brings the prospect of an end to overcrowded, unpleasant commuting for many thousands of workers. As employers we need this investment; our employees need this investment; our region needs this investment. Now is the time to show our support for high-speed rail.”

Construction boss Mr Carr urged the Government to put the needs of business ahead of groups lobbying to stop development of the first stage of the line, which is planned to run through the Chiltern hills between London and Birmingham.

He said: “High speed rail is essential for business in the North of England. The debate so far has been dominated by the Chilterns lobby and it its time that the business community’s voice is heard.

“The high speed rail network not only substantially reduces journey times but addresses capacity issues of the existing rail network.

“Rapid access to markets not only in the UK but Europe is so important in rebalancing our local economy.”