Leeds shortlisted for HS2 production firm

HS2 trains, potentially to be produced in Leeds.

HS2 trains, potentially to be produced in Leeds if a new factory is given green light.

The city of Leeds has been listed as a possible destination for a proposed train manufacturing hub, it has been announced.

By George Webb

The new facility would be used as a production site for trains made for HS2.

It could potentially create over 1000 jobs in the Leeds area. Chesterfield and St. Helens are Leeds’ two competitors for the right to be the home of HS2 productions.

Talgo, the Spanish company which has been outsourced for the production of HS2 trains, issued a statement regarding the news. They told Leeds Hacks they wanted to enter the UK train market through “true manufacturing”, and went on to say how they plan to achieve this: “Instead of assembling kits of parts from overseas, the company wants to source components from within the United Kingdom.”

“Boosting local economies”

Many people have expressed concern over the fact that the government have chosen a foreign company to build the trains for HS2, but Talgo have been quick to suppress these worries.

“This approach will grow the UK’s manufacturing capability, strengthen supply chains, create more jobs, and boost local economies.”

Everybody wins?

Carlos De Palacio, the President of Talgo (and the grandson of the founder), also issued us with a statement. He acknowledged the fact that only one of these sites can eventually be given the green light, but claimed that “excellent relationships” have already been established in every region they visited: “We anticipate continuing these relationships to ensure that Talgo provides great opportunities across the UK.”

“Fiddling the figures”

However, there is another side to this coin. Looking at what Talgo have to say on the matter is all well and good – but it is no secret that plans for HS2 have sparked controversy from the second they were initially drawn up.

STOP HS2 is one of the leading groups which is campaigning to put a stop to these plans, and claims that the project could be seriously damaging to the UK economy.

Their website breaks down a lot of the promises and claims made by HS2 ltd, and accuses both them and the government of “fiddling the figures” in order to make to prospect seem a lot more beneficial than it actually is.

They also decode what the government says about the project becoming “a magic wand to re-balance the economy”, by focusing on the notion that HS2 will reinforce the “Northern Powerhouse” mantra which has been prominent in parliament for a number of years.

“The problem is that all the experts concur that when high speed rail connects two cities, the economic benefits flow to the dominant city – in this case, London,” the website states.

Long wait

Initial plans are for the new rail line to connect London to Birmingham, with phase two due to expand the service to both Leeds and Manchester. Whether or not these plans will bring the economic prosperity that is being promised, is yet to be seen.

The building process of HS2 is not due to begin until 2026 at the earliest, and so the debate around it is likely to continue for many years to come.



About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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