Manchester claims an underground HS2 station would be better for the city. Credit: Weston-Williamson

Manchester repeats calls for rethink of Piccadilly HS2 station 

The city council has warned that the creation of an overground station would “squander some of the huge potential benefits of the once-in-a-lifetime project”, urging the government to consider an underground alternative. 

By changing tack on the station plan, Manchester City Council claims the local economy could benefit from £333m more a year than if the overground station goes ahead.     

The city council’s calls for a rethink come as the government prepares to deposit the HS2 bill, which would pave the way for the construction of the Crewe to Manchester phase of the network. 

“We have one shot at this and we can’t afford to get it wrong,” said Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig. 

While supporting the arrival of HS2, the council claims that an overground station would take up land that could otherwise be used for development, limiting HS2’s catalytic impact. 

Estimates from independent advisors suggest that extra land required by the overground station and its associated infrastructure would result in the loss of 123 acres of land that could have supported around 14,000 jobs, the city council said. 

In addition, the overground station would create the need for “unwelcome infrastructure” that would “dominate parts of the city”. The construction of “huge concrete viaducts” would overshadow parts of East Manchester”, the council added. 

Finally, the city council argues the overground station offers no scope to increase passenger numbers in the years ahead, “compromising its reliability and resilience”. 

“The overground plan is the wrong one. It will be cheaper to build in the short term but in the long term it will cost the region’s economy much more in missed opportunities,” Craig added.    

“We urge the Government and HS2 to reconsider the compelling case for an underground station. If they want the option that delivers the greatest benefits for years to come, they need to look below the surface.”     

The overground/underground debate has been going on for several years. In 2020, an alternative proposal from architecture studio Weston Williamson + Partners and consultancy Expedition, claimed an underground station at Manchester Piccadilly “could save billions”. 

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

Why has the government taken money away from other northern cities to fund London’s underground stations? That’s the question northern leaders should be putting to the government.

An underground station properly tied into the new transpennine line offers huge benefits that ripple across the north. We should not be paying for poor foresight and planning by DfT / HS2 / HM Gov.

By KOTN

If Richard Leese couldn’t pull this one off then Bev Craig doesn’t stand a chance.The North will only ever get the remains. The feast is eaten 200 miles south.

By Anonymous

It would not have been so bad scaling back the eastern leg if they had counteracted that with the underground station at Piccadilly. This would still provide a high-speed link to Leeds. Manchester City Council is absolutely right to push for this.

By Ben

Crumbs again for the north. It doesn’t just sell Manchester short- the lack of integration affects all of us north of Birmingham.

By Gene Walker

The council are absolutely right. The government must change their approach and agree to the underground proposal for this station.

By CFN

Unfortunately an underground HS2 station won’t happen. Just like a full Northern Powerhouse Rail package and an HS2 Eastern leg wasn’t committed too. I have my doubts HS2 will even come to Manchester in all it’s glory.

We are so far behind London and with our current government don’t stand any chance in catching them up.

By Verticality

Says it all that Old Oak Common will be an underground station but not enough money for Manchester to get one. Familiar story with this government

By Disgruntled Goat

The money saved from scrapping the Eastern leg should definitely be used to fund this underground station, along with a through route to Leeds to mitigate some of the impact of the loss of the Eastern leg.

With the proximity of Picadilly and Victoria, I’ve always thought an underground station positioned between the two would connect the city together much better. You could have airport style travelators allowing rail users to quickly get to either Picadilly or Victoria for even better connectivity.

By Gareth Broom

Old Oak gets underground station, no debate.Mcr with a population of 3M people doesn’t?.An underground station with the capability of expansion, ie;tunnelled line out to Leeds is essential to the economy of the entire northern regions.Good luck Bev.

By Robert Fuller

An underground station is the correct option here. It would allow through trains and minimise impact above ground to allow further development. This is a mistake that will scar Manchester for the next 100 years.

Sadly I think our chances are slim. Other northern cities have got even less from this government, with NPR basically cancelled by the government, leaving Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle high and dry. The whole thing’s a disgrace.

By Mancunian

I really hope this happens! Keep it all underground, link it to Leeds going north and allow the surrounding areas (especially to the east of the station) to be covered in skyscrapers, hopefully including the odd supertall (300m ) skyscraper or two.

By MC

Underground or overground, it just all feels irrelevant. In a world of super fast fibre connections, 5G, constantly improving computers and smartphones, that all enable an ability to access and effectively meet anyone and work from anywhere – HS2 is a hugely expensive and massively outdated solution to a problem that no longer exists.
Either scrap the whole thing or push for a much faster more innovative method of transport such as hyperloop.

By Anon

I`d be happy for now to get the HS2 line North of Crewe, then get the full West to East NPR line on top.

By Anonymous

What a joke. Right from the off Manchester has been given everything they asked for. They even designed the HS2 station!!! Now it’s not good enough!

As Shapps said the other month, billions on this takes billions away from everyone else.

By Jeff

Makes more sense to build a tube or crossrail under Piccadilly than a mainline station.

By Jon

Never gonna happen sorry !!!!

By Anonymous

More to Northern Powerhouse than just Manchester ?
Liverpool offered to pay for it’s own line via Crewe too, now that’s unfair !

By ben

Perhaps the rest of the North West could have a whip round to help pay for this? After all we’d be nothing without the capital city and great benefactor that Manchester is always giving and never taking.

By More funding for Cobble town.

Although I agree with Jeff to an extent. The reason there is no money left for an Underground station, HS2 to Leeds, or a proper NPR, is because the government has given billions in hand outs to people in the Chilterns, and built a tunnel to protect the views from their houses. HS2 is going to become a commuter train for Londoners. Those clowns in Westminster on both sides of the house, have spent the last decade dallying with this project, appeasing Terry and June in Great Missenden,and now there is no money left to link conurbations of 2 and 3 million people to the capital city. An absolute farce of organisation. Imagine there not being a HS train between Berlin and Hamburg. We are the laughing stock of the rich world.

By Elephant

Has Manchester really got the Norths back ?
There are other keys arears in the North that are not receiving the same investment that have proven to be more beneficial to the North of England if given the fair share of the money pot .
Liverpool will bounce back eventually it has all the right ingredients and global status that no other city in the North of England can buy or build .

By Anonymous

Only if other cities where given the funding to progress their own way hey
Manchester needs Liverpool more

By Anonymous

I think some people may be missing the point. I really don’t think this is a case of Manchester wanting it all, as some are suggesting. It’s well known that Manchester Piccadilly is a major bottleneck that has repercussions across the whole of the northern rail network.

As I understand it (and I’m no expert) going for the underground option would allow far more flexibility and capacity, and therefore benefit the whole of north with regards to a better rail experience. Yes Manchester would also benefit as this would free up valuable land for future development, but the benefits would go far beyond Manchester.

By Man Man

Hs2. Waste of money only benefits Manchester again with its fraud population of 2/8 million. 2/3 million don’t want nothing to with Greater Manchester. But adding this population status gets Manchester every investment in the north. Liverpool will do what it does without Tory help.

By Frank Donovan

Using France as an example, I don`t think any high speed trains run directly into cities on high speed tracks or in tunnels, and they have Europe`s best and most comprehensive system.
They do have a high speed line that skirts round Paris via the 2 airports and then on to the channel tunnel via Lille, so why does Manchester need high speed right into the city centre, surely classic lines can be used for the final few miles, and then the rest of the money saved can be used to get high speed tracks to the outskirts of other cities in the North.

By Anonymous

Sorry Frank but such unsubstantiated comments without any substance or verification is just a rant. Manchester may indeed seem to attract all of the investment but it is not the cause of Liverpool’s ill’s.

By Anonymous

What you’ve described there Frank is a conurbation, just the same as Merseyside’s 1.6m people only bigger. Yes Manchester’will benefit from HS2 but it’s more through geography ,population density and a willingness to attract investment than any Tory government . It goes back a long way before Boris .

By Anonymous

Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 12,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox

Subscribe

Join more than 12,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

Name*
Would you also like to receive our free PlaceTech Weekly newsletter, covering innovation in property?*