HS2 bill for Crewe to Manchester goes before Parliament
The government is introducing legislation for the next phase of HS2 today.
The “High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill” will bring HS2 to Manchester and, in turn, cut travel from London to Manchester by around 55 minutes. It would also enable the creation of a high-speed station and junction at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
A junction near Crewe would be able to be developed as well.
Manchester City Council has already raised concerns about the Manchester Piccadilly station, urging the government to consider an underground version.
If passed, the HS2 bill could create 17,500 jobs to the North to support the construction of the line.
Part of the HS2 line will be used for Northern Powerhouse Rail services between Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. This will cut the Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool journey to 35 minutes and enable travellers to get between Leeds and Liverpool in an hour and a quarter.
HS2 will also allow for capacity to double on routes between Manchester and London and Birmingham.
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“We are determined to improve transport connections and level up communities across the country and this bill marks a landmark moment as we bring HS2 to Manchester and lay the foundations for Northern Powerhouse Rail,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps.
“Our £96bn investment in rail in the North and Midlands and in connecting them to London will bring communities together, create thousands of jobs and make towns and cities in these key areas more attractive to business up to 10 years quicker than under any previous plans.”
HS2 is aiming to deliver a 10% net gain in biodiversity along the Crewe to Manchester route. The trains themselves will run on zero-carbon energy.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, criticised the bill.
“We remain committed to working with the government to bring HS2 to our city region. But we remain of the view that this is the wrong plan, both for Greater Manchester and for the North as a whole,” Burnham said.
Chief among his concerns is building the HS2 station above ground at Manchester Picadilly. That would mean the new station would be at full capacity from the beginning, Burnham argued.
“It means the new train services from Liverpool and Leeds having to reverse out,” Burnham continued. “And it also means forever losing prime development land and the economic opportunity that goes with it.”
Not all in Greater Manchester oppose the HS2 legislation.
Chris Fletcher, marketing and campaigns director with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce voiced his support for the bill.
“Phase 2b of HS2 will be transformative for Greater Manchester and the wider North West,” Fletcher said. “The benefits of delivering HS2 in full are many: it will promote economic growth, trigger business investment, unlock labour markets and enable regeneration of areas that desperately need ‘levelling up’.
“The additional rail capacity HS2 will deliver could allow more rail freight and contribute to the attainment of net zero goals by reducing congestion on the roads. HS2, therefore, is not merely about reducing travel times. It is an essential part of ‘levelling up’ and Greater Manchester Chamber welcomes further progress on HS2.”
Clare Hayward, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership was also supportive.
“Ensuring all of Cheshire and Warrington is properly connected to the rest of the North West and the country as a whole, and delivering an integrated sustainable transport solution, is vital in ensuring our continued economic growth and delivering on our net zero ambitions,” she said.
“High-speed links to the airport, and Manchester beyond are a key part of this, providing easy access to good employment opportunities as well as ensuring our vital industries, including net zero, are easily accessible and properly joined up to important infrastructure.
“Crewe has a proud rail heritage and has long been seen as the gateway to the north and today’s announcement is an important step in it continuing to be so. I look forward to seeing the project progress and come to fruition, providing economic benefits to all our area and the people that live here.”