Manchester pushes for underground HS2 hub

The council has pledged to maximise the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” High Speed 2 presents for regenerating the city centre and improving connections across the North, but called for an underground HS2 station at Manchester Piccadilly and the removal of the nearby Gateway House office block.

Manchester City Council’s economy scrutiny committee expects to sign off its response to the consultation launched by the HS2 company in October and intends to submit the report to the executive committee for final approval next week.

The latest HS2 consultation details “design refinements” for the UK’s high-speed rail project – in particular, the western leg of phase 2b of the route, between Crewe and Manchester. The consultation closes on 11 December.

Station designs at both Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport have been tweaked, and a route alignment change made to reduce the impact on an existing train care facility at Ardwick, and facilitate the integration of proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail links at both high speed stations.

The consultation is expected to be the final one prior to the Government’s clearing of a hybrid legislative bill required to progress the scheme, although a further route-wide update may be published for information in advance of the bill, HS2 has said.

Manchester City Council said in its response: “The council, alongside it’s Greater Manchester partners, continues to support the development and delivery of HS2 and NPR at a local, regional and national level.

“The scheme has the potential to provide a catalyst which can attract further investment into Greater Manchester by creating a new gateway into the regional centre and boost investor confidence in the area.

“Specifically, the proposals for HS2/NPR stations at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport provide major opportunities for stimulating economic growth and regeneration in the surrounding areas.”

Manchester’s consultation response “highlights the council’s support for the Government’s intention to progress with the proposed HS2 Phase 2b extension from Crewe to Manchester, and its consideration of the case for NPR to improve capacity, reliability and frequency of services,” the report added.

However, the council said it remained concerned by several elements of the design consultation. They are:

  • it said it disagrees with the “current operational and functional design” of the proposed Manchester Piccadilly surface station, and supports alternative proposals for an HS2 and NPR-integrated underground station design for Piccadilly, which would offer capacity for future train service growth. “It is critical to the levelling up agenda that the right station is constructed in Manchester,” the report said.
  • that all designs for stations and key infrastructure such as viaducts, headhouses and vent shafts, are of high quality and appropriate for their setting, and consistent with principles included in HS2’s earlier design vision document
  • that HS2 stations can properly act as key gateways to the wider masterplanned areas around them, including the Piccadilly and Mayfield SRF’s at Piccadilly and Timperley Wedge and Davenport Green GMSF development areas at the Airport station, “enabling the maximum growth to be achieved”. This includes scheduling and sequencing works to avoid extended blight and to make efficient use of resources, the document states.
  • the council said it believes Gateway House, an office block that sits opposite and on the approach to Piccadilly Station, be removed “to provide an appropriate entrance sequence to the station that has the capacity to accommodate the expected growth in station users” and provides an appropriate gateway to the city.
  • that Manchester Airport HS2 station is a “fully integrated solution” that serves adjacent communities, and that its impact on surrounding communities and the environment is fully mitigated.

Manchester City Council noted in its draft consultation response that there are no direct financial consequences arising from its report, but urged the Department for Transport to ensure a clear funding strategy to guarantee the delivery of HS2 and NPR schemes “in their entirety”.

It added: “We remain committed to working collaboratively with HS2 Ltd and the Government to ensure that both rail schemes fully align with the economic growth context for the city, as well as adjacent and linked regeneration initiatives and other transport infrastructure schemes, to ensure that the optimum solution is delivered in Manchester, which maximises a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

This and more topics were discussed at Place North West‘s Transport + Infrastructure event last month, summarised here


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This is a once in a life time opportunity for the station and needs to be done right. I like the look of what has been proposed here. I know Manchester is looking at having underground transport around the city in the future linking with the Metrolink, will be great if it is all intergraded.

By Bob

Underground is a far better option but mainly, Piccadilly HAS to be a through station, not just a terminus!!

By Thumbs Up

Well if they get it I hope Liverpool gets the Paradise street car park site as a station, with the full 8 platforms. It will cost less.

By John B

Underground platforms would be brilliant for providing better east-west capacity, although the cost would be phenomenal. Having said that, if Crossrail can do it, why shouldn’t we?

Imagine not having to walk to platform 13/14 every time you want to catch a train to somewhere else in the North… wow!

By Superhans

I wish the trams were underground, they ruin much of the city centre

By Dan

Why do we need to get rid of Gateway House if the new station will be underground?


Make that Mount Pleasant Car Park.

By John B

Its about time this was done. In a book by Keith Warrender, he details the many, many times since 1839 – (around 10) – that Manchester has tried to construct an underground. The last time was the Picc- Vic line which had to pull in 1977 due to the government – again. It’s ironic seeing as though the first rail line ran between Liverpool and Manchester…

By Mr p

Without the link between Euston and St Pancras the whole HS2 is just a way for Londoners to get back home quicker. That link could bring Eurostar to Manchester which would connect the north with the rest of Europe, but the govt has no intention of doing that since it would only benefit the north.
The link was costed at £750m, which on top of the >£80bn HS2 will cost is peanuts, but it was rejected because it was too expensive! That just proves that HS2 is all about London, not Manchester. So a trip to Paris will be 200mph to London, 4mph walk across London with all your baggage in tow, then 200mph to Paris – plainly ridiculous. I could never support HS2 without that link in place. Why is this being kept such a secret?

By Paul

Good luck with that! If you were in the South East or London, it’d probably be no problem, but you’re in the North and a long way from the purse strings….

By Kevin McAuley

Paul – that has been my exact though the whole time.

Superfast to London, Superfast London to Paris; all gains lost because you have to spend 20-30 minutes trudging through the rain down Euston Road; absolutely bizarre design.

Imagine being able to get a train from the centre of Manchester, and hopefully Liverpool, to the centre or Paris/Brussels/Amsterdam I’d take that over a flight any day.

By Thumbs Up

If anyone wants to see how transport is effectively integrated in a city,I suggest Vienna. A fast link from the airport, which goes underground into the city, almost directly from passport control reaching both the metro and the trams seamlessly. The trains from Vienna airport are Double-Deckers and are immaculate and to the second on time.Manchester should forget London and look abroad for inspiration.

By Anonymous

When the Financial , Judiciary and Governmental centre are all located in one city ,the most we can ever expect is crumbs and the occasional chicken leg. Metro Mayor’s can complain but they still have have to go cap in hand to whatever Government of the day is in power.

By DaveDee

Getting a train directly from Manchester to Amsterdam does sound pretty good tbh

By Anonymous

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