An artist's impression of one of the future HS2 trains. Credit: HS2

Manchester cements opposition to HS2 bill

Manchester City Council is set to formalise its complaints regarding the government’s latest plans for the high-speed railway line.

On Friday, the council’s cabinet will be discussing at least 13 key issues with the government’s bill for phase 2 of HS2. This is the leg that connects Crewe and Manchester and would see new stations built at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.

In a report to the executive ahead of the cabinet meeting, the council said it supported HS2 overall. However, it wanted to make sure the government’s plan would “maximise the benefits and minimise the negative impacts that HS2 will have for the city”.

The Manchester Piccadilly station has been a point of contention since the bill was unveiled in January, with both city council leader Cllr Bev Craig and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham stating that the station needs to be underground rather than the proposed above-ground plan. Bolstering their case, architectural practice Weston Williamson + Partners publicised its designs for what a possible underground station could look like.

The council said that should an agreement not be reached between the council, the company behind HS2 and the Department for Transport then it would be petition the bill. The council has already instructed parliamentary agents to act on its behalf in negotiations.

These are the chief concerns from the council regarding the HS2 bill, as per the report:

  • The design of Manchester Piccadilly station as a surface, turn back station, as opposed to an underground, through station, which could provide greater capacity, reliability, resilience, future proofing and passenger experience and result in a reduced land take.
  • The retention of Gateway House, which inhibits connectivity to the rest of the city centre and fails to provide a suitable entrance and arrival point to the city at the Manchester Piccadilly HS2 station.
  • The extent of highways infrastructure proposed at Pin Mill Brow, which are overly large, would unduly encourage car travel and increase pollution, sever areas of the city, and do not allow for active travel.
  • The level and location of car parking proposed at Manchester Piccadilly, which is too high and not in keeping with the adjacent station’s role as a city centre public transport hub, unnecessarily encourages car travel, and takes up prime development land.
  • The need for a multi-modal interchange which provides bus and coach parking facilities.
  • The proposed access to a new ramp for Network Rail maintenance, which routes traffic through the Mayfield development, having an unacceptably negative impact
  • Inadequate integration of, and powers for, Metrolink at both Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport
  • The location of the proposed Metrolink turnback at New Islington rather than our preferred site at Velopark, and the proposal to sever the Ashton line for two years
  • The proposed location of the ventilation shaft and headhouse on the Fallowfield Road Retail Park on Birchfields Road, and the need to provide adequate flood storage required for the proposed Palatine Road ventilation shaft
  • An inappropriate design for highways access to Manchester Airport Station at Junction 6 of the M56, which does not take into account future demand from NPR services, planned development and Airport growth
  • The level of construction traffic proposed and the need for consideration of measures to enable materials to be removed using rail at Manchester Airport
  • The levels of environmental mitigation, which will be set out in more detail in the City Council’s response to consultation on the hybrid bill’s Environmental Statement
  • Changes to statutory powers highlighted in the bill

Read the report

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An underground through station would be of huge benefit to the whole of the North not just Manchester, if they want to achieve true leveling up there are not many better opportunities when it comes to transport. Manchester is likely to have an underground anyway by 2040 according to TFGM which could link very nicely into this.

By Bob

Amazing. All these years and Liverpool held back from the final cards to play, so as to not derail the whole scheme.

And here we have a petulant Manchester administration already getting a gold plated scheme – everything they initially asked for – demanding more. “Or else”.

By Jeff

MCC need to be careful here. UK Government generally doesn’t like investing outside London and the south east and any push-back on something like this will be seen as justification to not bother investing in northern England.

By Anonymous

Other cities would kill for this , just ask Leeds.This is grandstanding at its finest. No harm in trying but as much chance as Vladimir Putin being awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

By Reallythough

Well done MCC it’s about time we stopped the handout and be grateful attitude of central Government. The North of England deserve just as much as the South East so MCC keep it up and hold out for the best solution.

By Monty

I agree 100% with the councils proposed plan.

By Philip Sharp

The use of video conferencing has shown there is no longer any justification for HS2 and the country cannot afford it. It needs to be scaled back so that it continues on existing lines from Birmingham or Crewe. The proposed new line into Manchester should be abandoned and the money spent on improvements to trans pennine services

By T Garvey

I am glad the cringeworthy cap doffing on this project has stopped. Apparently we should be grateful for any crumbs from London regardless of how ill conceived the project. Just because Whitehall is thinking of spending some loose change on the north doesn’t mean we should accept the scheme that they first come up with. Personally I would have it at all and would happily see the money spent more wisely on other transport initiatives. As a regular traveller to London (every week) I have never thought “if only I could get there a bit faster and pay more money for the privilege”

By Cynic

Not going to happen
The change of the global economy will be changing drastically soon due to happenings with Russia HS2 will be halted via Birmingham

By Anonymous

The greed from Manchester – never mind a North -South divide there is a Northwest Divide

By Anonymous

All valid remarks from MCC. Very fair and level headed. As others have commented, not just saying ‘thank you sir’ to anything proposed.

To build it overground and with no future option for expansion doesn’t benefit anybody.

I wonder if an underground terminal station could be a middle ground option here? less disruption to the city and at least has the option of a future through track if funding is given possible.

[My preference has always been a high speed Liverpool to Leeds via MCR airport over this, hands down]

By T

Although I live in GM I think some people on here have a point. Manchester got HS2, as did Manchester airport. It also got what in effect is a Manchester Crossrail. Warrington to Marsden is a Crossrail for the city, as Marsden is a five minute drive from the GM border, this service is of no relevance to the people of West Yorkshire and will make Marsden a GM commuter town.

By Elephant

Oh dear Anonymous 953am, if you’re not careful an opinion can very quickly seem like an illogical rant when there is little logic behind it. What would you have Manchester do? hold back on attracting inward investment and development? Say no to massive infrastructure initiatives? That would be madness. Oh hold on , that seems to be what they are doing here. Still , the government are unlikely to say, you know what Liverpool, you can have it instead . It’s a wee bit more complex than that. Manchester’s success is not the problem here.

By Anonymous

Spot on. It needs to be an underground through station. Ironically all the European terminus stations quoted in the awful Treasury IRP document are having to be rebuilt at huge expense to allow through running trains. An underground station will save a fortune in the long run as the current proposal will be at capacity on Day 1 (or beyond capacity if anything goes wrong) which is ludicrous.

By Dr B

All fair points, but with Sunak pushing for austerity need to take care to keep this alive. Needless to say a Labour government between now and 2030 would be be a big help.

By Rich X

Not going to happen because Russia has invaded Ukraine ? Is that just HS2, or all large capital projects ? Please explain we’d be fascinated to hear your insight.

By Charles

Andy Burnham complains of London bias and the disproportionate amount of spending there, but does he stop to think how much Manchester gets in contrast to other Northern cities. We could build underground mainline stations in all our big cities to ease the flow of
inter-city trains but it`s costly, so why should Manchester get preference.
Manchester is a great city but we have other great cities that are getting little or no HS2.
I reckon Andy is putting his feelers out for any future Labour government to agree to his plans.

By Anonymous

So Manchester should just sit back and take it?

Not a very Mancunian/progressive attitude really. Maybe in other cities though.

By Anonymous

What is it that Manchester has ‘got’ that other places haven’t so far? An arts space currently under construction, and what else?

By Dave

What Manchester gets compared to other Northern cities? Really? So its all the Governments doing that Manchester’s sucess over the past couple of decades has been so meteoric. Not the councils willingness to parner with developers, planners, inward investors and local businesses? If by other cities you mean Liverpool then i’d suggest you’d have to look at the councils record there over a similar period where the situation has been the very antithisis of this.

By Anonymous

Liverpool tried to get a tram and got knocked back by Labour, tried to get Channel 4 tv and got kb`d, has tried to get HS2 , which was Lord Adonis`s baby and he`s Labour, nothing doing from him either………… and so on. We got Liverpool One built though ,in partnership with Grosvenor.

By Anonymous

The regional back biting on the Manchester position is very disappointing.

The City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester have endeavoured over several years to persuade HS2 Ltd to bring forward proposals that enable the investment to be made to have a long term beneficial impact for Greater Manchester and the north of England. For example, without moving Gateway House to create an entrance that can cope with a footfall of 100 million plus per annum is just plain common sense! What is the HS2 alternative? Onto Store Street???

Manchester has to stand up and get the right outcome. Any city would do so given the nature of the proposals that HS2 have brought forward.

By Anonymous

Every city gets ‘knocked back’ on government projects and regardless of what colour politics you are they are all the same. That’s why Manchester has had to do most of its own development over the years and why it has thrived and attracted so many jobs and the infrastructure that goes with it. Getting HS2 is a consequence of that plus geography, not a government conspiracy to drive Liverpool further down the pecking order.

By Anonymous

When surveys are carried out on properties in some Timperley Areas ,buyers have dropped purchase (.Wa15) Mainwood Road and surrounding areas.

By Mary Edwardson

Pleased to see we’re taking the fight to the govt. for the underground station!
Anything less would be short-termism at its finest, scuppering the second half of the century.

By Tom

Needs to be underground. Terminus station would be ruinous to that part of Manchester and would not benefit the E-W links to Leeds/Liverpool being a turnback station. So the council are well within their right to push back on this. Those saying we should be grateful miss the point entirely

By Disgruntled Goat

The most ridiculous idea is HS3 stopping at Marsden. Could someone explain to Grant Shapps that in Southern terms ,that is a bit like a High Speed train terminating in a Chilterns Village, rather than carrying on to Oxford, from London. I don’t think that these London politicians actually know how big Leeds and Bradford are. Imagine Southern commuters getting off a train in the middle of nowhere and then spending a further hour, if they are lucky on a replacement bus, for ten years to get to Leeds, whilst upgrading is done at a snail’s pace. This is beyond a let down, it is actually discriminatory.

By Elephant

A 21st century HS rail line should not contemplate a turnback station at a key node. Simple.


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