HS alternative Manchester Piccadilly station, MCC, c Bennetts Associates

Bennett Associates, Transport for Greater Manchester, Greig Penny Architecture, and Manchester City Council have already mocked up initial designs for a possible underground station. Credit: Greig Penny Architecture

Dream revived for underground Manchester Piccadilly station

Rail minister Huw Merriman has stirred up Northern transport hopes, confirming his willingness to explore an underground through-station in Manchester and a possible parkway station outside Liverpool.

Merriman has also reiterated the government’s March commitment to a new rail line between Liverpool and Manchester, one that goes through Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport.

Those assertions were made in excerpts of two letters publicised by the Andy Burnham for Greater Manchester Mayor re-election campaign.

One of the letters was to Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool City Council Leader Cllr Liam Robinson, and the other to Burnham and Manchester City Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig. With the exception of Robinson, all are up for election on 2 May.

In both letters, Merriman confirmed his willingness to explore those possible solutions once the “high-level route strategy for NPR between Liverpool and Manchester is agreed”.

The willingness to consider an underground, through-station at Manchester Piccadilly marks a change in policy for government. Former transport secretary Grant Shapps had ruled out the station in 2022, back when HS2 was still coming to Manchester. The company delivering HS2 also objected to an underground station, stating that the plan would cost £5bn more than an above-ground option and take 13 years longer to deliver.

Craig said she was “pleased” that the government was changing its position on the underground station at Piccadilly.

“Manchester has long made the case that if we are to invest in our railways, we should get it right the first time,” she said. “We’ve won hearts and minds with the case for an underground rail station in the city that can house high-speed trains.”

Robinson also welcomed the change in attitude, saying: “After years of lobbying, it is great that the government has recognised that their current proposals for Liverpool to Manchester railways fall far short of our ambitions for our regions.

“I’m delighted that local leaders will now have the chance to help shape the future of our network and absolutely support Steve and Andy’s ambitions for greater local control and accountability over the services that run between our two great cities.”

Rotheram and Burnham also voiced their approval of Merriman’s words, touting the confirmation of being willing to consider alternatives as a victory of the North.

Rotheram said: “For too long, passengers across the North have been forced to put up with a second-class rail service. Rather than accepting cheap and nasty solutions, I’ve fought our area’s corner and forced the government back to the drawing board.

“Our two regions were railway pioneers and we’ve already shown in the Liverpool City Region how publicly run transport delivers a much better service for passengers and taxpayers alike. We’ll continue that proud tradition by working to establish a new publicly operated Liverpool-Manchester link, putting Labour values at the heart of our railways.”

Burnham added: “We are fast approaching the 200th anniversary of the first inter-city railway service in the world linking our two great cities. On the eve of this momentous anniversary, it is wonderful news that the region which gave railways to the world has won its fight for a more ambitious 21st century to be properly considered.”

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The Government is willing to reconsider an underground now that an election is coming up ? I have never voted Labour and I probably never will but does anyone really believe this nonsense? I mean really ? We need a Northern Nationalist Party . Andy Burnham, Steve Rotherham and George Osborne for starters. Bags me Treasury.

By Sir George Waffle

Thats really is great news for both cities but what about the Mid cheshire line

electrification tier 1 proposal been going on for more than 20 years now

New station for middlewich

and finally the 4.5mile western rail link connection from Mobberley to manchester airport this proposal is more than 20 years old now! the undercroft connection at the airport is already done for the line!

By Northwich

Once again, the conservatives making false promises before an election. My votes change year on year but I really like how Labour is trying to upgrade transport in the north.

By Anonymous

When Transpennine Express can be bothered running it, there is already a fast train service between Liverpool and Manchester Victoria, running on recently upgraded lines. It doesn’t run often enough, or late enough, but the capacity is already there. What would be transformative would be connecting this to Piccadilly via a fast underground link, similar to the Pic-Vic plan, which would greatly improve the robustness of Metrolink and free up space in the city centre. This latest revival of an underground Piccadilly, now there is no HS2, feels more like an electioneering stunt, and “dream” seems the right word. How about delivering platforms 15 and 16 at Piccadilly first?

By Loco Motives

I find it adorable when people believe anything Conservatives say after 14 years of lying to the north/country as a whole

By Anonymous

Well it’s not like Labour haven’t made false promises to the North is it? Only the North will look after the North. Paint the politicians any colour you like, once they’re in Westminster the Status Quo will be maintained. Believe anything else and you just haven’t been around long enough.

By Gym Hacker

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell another election promise from a Tory Englishman..

By Anonymous

@Loco Motives – what you’re failing to see is that an underground Piccadilly station opens up the possibility of creating a fully fledged underground system in the city centre. This could be the first step to getting a truly spectacular transport within central Manchester which would benefit the city MASSIVELY

By Anonymous

Believe it when i see it. Don’t fall for it and never forget the day Rishi turned up in Manchester and cancelled HS2

By Bob

Something needs to be done to remove the bottleneck that is manchester for those travelling from Preston, Warrington, Liverpool to anywhere the other side of the Pennines the pathetic crawl through Oxford Road and so on is painful. Wish there was a by-pass route. Anything to improve on this is a step forward.

By PrestonBrummie

Could you imagine the scale of ASB on an underground, doesn’t bear thinking about

By Gilly

I find it adorable when people believe anything Labour say after years of lying to the north/country as a whole.

This would be a huge waste of money and not required, this should be invested in other areas.

By Anonymous

Election time lol

By Anonymous

13 years to build an Underground station? What are they digging with? A toothpick?

By Elephant

@Loco Motives — An underground Piccadilly-Victoria link could also relieve the Castlefield Corridor (Piccadilly-Deansgage Viaduct) rail bottle-neck. As would moving Manchester Freight Terminal westward (think of all that valuable extra inner-city land for building on) so freight trains do not need to cross the city center.

By Anonymous

What is this fascination with a buffer stop station??? Immediately adjacent to Piccadilly is Mayfield Station disused since the late eighties but there nevertheless! Take a thirty foot airspace slice of that and extend westwards to Oxford Road and you get up to five more through platforms, connections west and north – and if you really think things through – north and east too!! Can’t be done – of course it can – but not with the closed minds of the likes of Burnham who can’t see further than his own personal ambition! Ask and I will gladly elucidate further!

By Not a Philistine

When considering these promises remember the promises made a couple of times by conservative ministers just before recent elections to make the Mersey tunnels toll free

By George ,

Surely the easiest option for a Liverpool
Parkway is Edge Hill? Every Lime Street train passes through already, there are disused tunnels that cross the Northern Line both north and south of Central that could be reopened and there is masses of land for new platforms and parking.

By Anonymous

@Loco Motives – i assume the reason there are not many fast services is due to a lack of capacity on the line (which this new proposal seeks to address). Only way to get more fast trains would be to reduce frequency of stopper services at the intermediate stations. But maybe this could be addressed by some more passing loops etc rather than a new line.

By J

A new terminal at Ardwick could be a viable alternative. Using the metro to transport to inner city and building a new interchange with buses. At present no city station has easy interchange with buses

By Anonymous

This would be a huge waste of money and not required, this should be invested in other areas.

You are kidding right?! The castlefield corridor alone contributes significantly towards delays across the north west rail network. Silly comment

By Levelling Up Manager

What a complete waste of money which would be better spent on finding a solution to the bottle neck between Piccadilly and Deansgate. The lack of capacity on this stretch of track causes most of the train delays in Manchester. Burnham and his cronies are just trying to revive the hated HS2. Just what is the use of an underground station when we have an overground metro system not an underground one

By Peter

Mayfield Station is sitting there immediately adjacent to Piccadilly. The base infrastructure is in situ and can be developed to provide the strategic terminal to link west-east route. The leadership group within Greater Manchester should remove their mental blinkers which has driven them down the rabbit hole of an underground station at Piccadilly.
At the HS2 Phase 2 Committee hearings, MCC and their proposals were ripped apart by HS2 for being mis-leading, unrealistic and incorrectly budgeted. Conservative Minister used the word “consider”- his motivation is GE; AB’s BC’s are the forthcoming local & Mayor elections. Politics!

By Really?

Will Merriman be doing that job come October? Doubt it, then the whole issue of fast rail travel across the North of England ie West to East, and North to South needs revisiting whereby we copy the French who build big stations out of city centres but provide great metro and tram networks for commuters to access them.

By Anonymous

Why this fixation with new lines and blue sky schemes? There are already two routes from Liverpool to Manchester. One already serves Warrington, and Manchester Airport. A new line is not needed. Get the basics right, and improve the existing lines, including electrification.

By Frustrated

this will never ever happen unfortunately

By Anonymous

How many northern transport “promises” have the Southservatives made and broken? I’ve lost count. From the Eurostar coming to Manchester to the completion of the Liverpool to Hull electrification by 2018 and the cancellation of HS2. It’s all lies, they can’t help themselves at this point.

By Bernard Fender

This is pre election talk. It’s undeliverable and not necessary now Manchester isn’t getting HS2. This sort of money instead of being wasting on silly schemes should be spent on housing, social care.

By Carl

The partly closed line through Reddish should be properly opened, trains could run from Bolton to London then via Victoria

By David Rolph

Broad Green parkway. Rotheram is pushing for the new Liverpool-Mcr service to be via the 1830 line as it is DIRECT! This gives leverage to get the Broad Green parkway station back on track after 45 years, together with the Merseyrail Outer Loop and run the the Wapping tunnel into Central as a part of the Liverpool-Mcr scheme, of which Mcr will have an NPR underground station.

By John

Usual pre-election nonsense, will never happen under this Government.

By Anonymous

Unfortunately I don’t belive an underground will ever being built

By MrP

@ John , I don`t think the Broadgreen Parkway is feasable anymore as there isn`t much room there for parking, unlike South Liverpool Parkway. I agree the Outer Loop should be re-instated to provide an important rail link from the Halewood/Widnes area up through Childwall, West Derby etc and onwards to Walton and maybe Southport. What is a complete conundrum is that Steve Rotheram never mentions this project even though he has his battery powered 777 trains, and this to me is a symbol of his lack of vision both in terms of local rail transport and improving Liverpool City Region`s links nationally.

By Anonymous

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