George Osborne defends HS2 and unveils new Corby Enterprise Zone plan on visit to Northampton today

Chancellor George Osborne said building a high speed railway line through Northamptonshire will stop county commuters facing ‘completely overcrowded’ trains within five years.

The Secretary of State made the comment as part of a visit to Arnold Plastics in Moulton Industrial estate on a day he outlined how the first 100 days in office would pan out should Conservatives come to power on May 7.

The Chancellor defended plans for HS2 and revealed that Corby would likely become an enterprise zone area if Conservatives win May's election.

The Chancellor defended plans for HS2 and revealed that Corby would likely become an enterprise zone area if Conservatives win May's election.

The Chancellor, who met a number of workers at the plastics firm and even had a go at making a laminate ‘Vote Conservatives’ sign during his visit, was in the county to outline his ‘timetable’ for a ‘stronger’ East Midlands as part of that plan.

Earlier in the day he had unveiled plans to freeze rail fares for five years and to establish an area of Corby as one of a number of new enterprise zones.

But the Chancellor said his party would also remain committed to building HS2, the high speed railway line which would skim through the Brackley area, despite opposition from pressure groups ion the county who say the line will be of no benefit to Northamptonshire with no station planned nearby.

In response, he said: “Even if there is not a station locally, HS2 eases congestion on the other lines and enables those trains to be much more pleasant to travel in frankly.

George Osborne meets staff on the factory floor in Moulton.

George Osborne meets staff on the factory floor in Moulton.

“If we don’t do anything, lines like the West Coast mainline, which a lot of people do use, will get completely crowded and full up within the next five, six years.

“The question is do you want to let that happen?”

The Chancellor said Northamptonshire would see knock-on benefits within the first 100 days of a Conservative government, with improvements to sections of the M1 and a plan to recruit over 270,000 new apprentices in the East Midlands by the end of the Parliament.

The Corby enterprise zone he said would help attract investors to the town.

But he was quizzed whether he could maintain his party’s mantra of delivering a solid ‘economic plan’ for the country, when charities in Northampton suggest food bank use has more than doubled and one in four children in the town are living in poverty.

He said: “In 2010 there was a lack of investment in infrastructure.

“Five years later unemployment is down by more than 50 per cent but, that is not enough.

“We by no means think the job is done, we’ve got to go on creating jobs and helping people with things like childcare, helping them onto the housing ladder and making sure that Northampton gets its fair share of investment.”