Rail jobs put Chesterfield in great position to reap benefits of HS2

Chesterfield has a long and proud tradition of railway engineering.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 2:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 6:53 pm

Anyone stepping out of the town’s station will be met by the imposing statue of George Stephenson, who lived nearby and has his final resting place in the town’s Holy Trinity churchyard.

The man who earned the title ‘Father of the Railways’ would no doubt be very proud to hear details of the £10m rail innovation centre being established in the town where he lived out his final days.

There was inevitable disappointment when Chesterfield was pipped to the post in the bid to become the chosen site for Spanish train-maker Talgo’s new UK factory.

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George Stephenson's statue outside Chesterfield railway station.

But the fact that we saw off competition from towns and cities right across the county to make it to the final two options is a huge testament to this part of the world – and the people who live here.

This is clearly borne out by the fact that Talgo was so impressed with Chesterfield, the firm decided to locate its innovation centre and UK headquarters in the town, creating hundreds of new jobs.

And it puts us potentially at the forefront of the next generation of rail technology, especially if the HS2 project gets the green light. The borough will also be home to an HS2 rail stop and maintenance depot which could lead to hundreds more engineering jobs, if the full high-speed train plans get the go ahead.

No development is deserving of a blank cheque – though it seems that the coffers to pay for transport improvements in London are near bottomless.

The Government is right to ensure that HS2 offers value for money – especially as it is our taxpayers’ money they’re investing.

But the simple truth is that we cannot run a modern, 21st century transport network on Victorian infrastructure that was only cutting-edge back when George Stephenson’s steam locomotives were running on them.

Nobody would dream of trying to trying to run the volumes of road traffic you now find on the M1 motorway down a cart track first used over a century ago, so why should the railways be any different?

It’s time for a second rail revolution which will help put Chesterfield on the fast track to future prosperity.