Private and public sector bosses in Bradford have expressed conditional support for the proposed £43 billion HS2 high-speed rail project ultimately linking London with Leeds and Manchester.

Members of Bradford Breakthrough, the advocacy group representing 32 local senior leaders, have come out in favour of the proposed HS2 rail link – as long as other improvements to the rail network of direct benefit to Bradford happen alongside it.

They reached their decision after hearing from a senior HS2 executive recently and following this week’s publication by the Government of the latest business case for the project.

It plans to link London with the Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire in two stages by 2033 – although Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has hinted that work could be brought forward to achieve cost savings and links to the North sooner.

Colin Philpott, Bradford Breakthrough chief executive, said: “We need ambitious infrastructure projects like HS2 for the future of our economy and extra capacity is desperately needed to prevent our rail network grinding to a halt.

“However, we are concerned that cities not directly on the HS2 route must be guaranteed some of the benefits of this enormous spending of public money.

“Bradford Breakthrough is calling for a commitment by the Government, and by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority when it’s established, to improve various other aspects of the rail network so that Bradford and other places benefit directly.

“These include a rail link to Leeds-Bradford Airport, the so-called Wortley Curve project which will enable easier and quicker trains from the East Coast line to Bradford and improvements on trans-Pennine routes linking northern cities.”

Sandy Needham, Bradford Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said many members were cautious about the benefits of HS2, blaming poor communications for much of the doubt.

She said: “A recent straw poll showed that the majority of business leaders don’t know what to think. Communications failed to explain the benefits of the new train line. The costs, the route and potential disruption have dominated the conversation.”

Meanwhile, Pudsey Conservative MP Stuart Andrew said failure to back HS2 would threaten jobs and investment in the North.

In the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Andrew said better rail connections were vital to the North. He asked Prime Minister David Cameron: “Do you not agree with me it is absolutely outrageous for (Labour) to be challenging HS2 at the current time, putting in jeopardy jobs and investment in the north of England?”

Mr Cameron agreed and accused Labour of playing “petty politics’ with the by threatening to withdraw its support.