BOLTON needs to get ready for high speed rail or risk being left on the platform, advocates of HS2 have warned.

The HS2 Growth taskforce, which includes the leaders of Manchester and Trafford councils plus figures from the private sector, met at Manchester Piccadilly today to lay out their recommendations for how the projects can drive regeneration in the north.

In its report to the Government, the group has argued that young people across Greater Manchester, including Bolton, could and should benefit from the creation of 25,000 jobs.

Bolton businesses also need to gear up to win the £25 billion worth of contracts that HS2 will generate, to make sure the wealth is spread across the country.

Minister of State for Transport Baroness Susan Kramer said a strong and successful rail connection between Manchester and Bolton was vital if the town was to benefit.

She added: “There’s going to be a massive opportunity and we must make sure that these jobs are available to local people.

“We need so many skills, they are not going to come out of just one place.

“And in the meantime Bolton businesses need to be looking at how they can take advantage.”

Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council and deputy chairman of the taskforce, said the completion of the Northern Hub would help Bolton benefit from HS2.

He added that the representatives from Greater Manchester on the Taskforce were working towards the benefits of the region, not just Manchester city centre.

“A thriving Bolton town centre, aided by the new Bolton Interchange, is very important not just for the people who live and work in Bolton, but for Greater Manchester as a whole,” he said.

Sean Harriss, chief executive of Bolton Council, said while there was no dedicated HS2 team within Bolton Council, the authority was involved through its membership of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

He added that they would look to link with Bolton colleges and businesses to help them get the most of the building of HS2.

He added: “We’re now moving into a different phase of the project which is the whole point of the taskforce — to see how local businesses and local people can benefit from the growth.

“The big priority for the council is to help and support creating jobs in Bolton. But obviously Bolton is part of a huge city region so we also want to maximise the benefits for Bolton people as well, even if the jobs aren’t in the town.”