MIPIM: HS3 first link in Northern Powerhouse Rail

Transport continued to dominate discussions during the second day of MIPIM in Cannes, as Jon Lamonte, chief executive of Transport for Greater Manchester, outlined his vision for a ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’ network.

While Wednesday also saw Chancellor George Osborne commit £60m in his Budget to developing a high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds, known as HS3, Lamonte took to the Manchester stand to promote the web of rail links between the Northern cities of Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Piccadilly shops

Manchester Piccadilly expansion design

Speaking to Place North West, Lamonte said: “We need better links from Liverpool across the whole of the North. The high-speed line from Manchester to Leeds, is just the first part, but then we need to go further. It won’t all be high-speed rail because of the close geography, but it will be improved.”

On the Manchester stand, Lamonte laid out Manchester’s Piccadilly station as “the heart of Northern Powerhouse Rail network”.

Manchester City Council and TfGM have been working on large-scale plans for the area around Piccadilly station for a number of years, to capitalise on the eventual arrival of HS2. The strategic regeneration framework designed by Bennetts Associates Architects for the 150-acre site was approved in September 2013.

Lamonte said: “Piccadilly is arguably the best connected real estate in the UK, and with the delivery of HS2 would present a once in a century opportunity.”

Lamonte said that while there was a Government commitment to turn Piccadilly station into “a multi-modal transport hub”, detailed plans were yet to be defined, and the level of financial backing the project could expect from the Government was unconfirmed.

The first phase of the framework to come forward is Mayfield, a 20-acre site next to the train station. A list of six potential development partners has been drawn up, made up of Argent, Ask Real Estate with Patrizia, Goodman, Muse Developments, U+I Group, formerly known as Development Securities, and Urban & Civic. The preferred developer will be selected in July 2016.

Later phases outlined by Lamonte, and included in the strategic framework, was 14m sq ft of mixed-use space at Piccadilly Central, and homes around East Village, with a new public park connecting Mayfield and a remediated Medlock.

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It won’t get to Liverpool, I feel sure of that.

I feel certain that Manchester to Leeds will take decades. Possibly over a decade just to plan such is the engineering enormity, let alone tunnel. And by that time, I expect the budget used will be so enormous there will be not one penny left for Liverpool, assuming it still exists as a city that has a need for such connection by that time.

Oh they’ll talk the talk about Liverpool, I’m sure, keen as they will be to ensure that there isn’t an almighty kick off. But given how easy Liverpool’s HS2 link is to build, how it has a ready made business case, how it should have been on HS2 in the first place, I feel there does deserve to be an almighty kick off.

Especially if there is any hint of Liverpool passengers having to pick up any part of the tab for being kicked in the teeth. Which, as UK taxpayers, of course they will in some form.

By Mike

Can the devolved cities not utilise their new found powers to make this happen?

By Jessica Mipim-Pugh in Middleton

Jessica – one would have hoped so, but apparently not. See Liverpool’s rejected offer to pay for this via TIF:


By dreamer

I think we all know that this HS3 is a Smokescreen for the huge project which will go ahead,Crossrail 2.Why is the money for that not being put wholly into paying for HS2? For Godsake they have just had Crossail one opened by the Queen. People in North London and Hertfordshire/Surrey are not a priority,they have enough access to public transport. Crossrail two’s money could pay for the links between Manchester and Leeds to Birmingham earlier,so that the building of HS2 begins at either end of the project,at the same time,reducing the ludicrous time it is taking to reach the North.

By Elephant

The Manchester-Leeds link is the key one. The cities of the North are too scattered to become a single economic powerhouse. However, a 40 mile fast line from Manchester Victoria to Leeds (both are through stations) via the M62 corridor and a new rail tunnel, would cut up to half an hour out of cross-Pennine train times from as far west as Liverpool to as far east as Hull and as far north as Newcastle. A map of this Northern Cities Crossrail is at http://www.infrastructure-intelligence.com/article/dec-2014/case-building-hs3-hs2. HS2 will not fast-connect these big northern centres and needs to come later in Mr Osborne’s priorities if he wants to lessen the North South Divide.

By Michael Wand

@MrWand. Liverpool & Manchester’s metropolitan areas actually border each other. St Helens to Wigan is but a stone’s throw. They are 35 miles apart, while Leeds and Manchester are 42 miles apart and separated by a mountain range.

Liverpool’s link is the key one, because it is the simplest to accomplish, the cheapest to do, and connects the two largest cities in the north which (as a result) have by far the highest number of people travelling between them. It also acts as a HS2 spur, connecting Liverpool to Birmingham and London properly, freeing up space on the line for the freight from its port and finally starting to make the most of the city.

When official statistics bloat other “metropolitan areas” by over a million and refuse to do same for Liverpool – despite its urban core easily being the equal to others – any “facts” emerging from the use of these statistics are just as unreliable.

By MIke

Mike has a point.There is this obsession with linking Leeds,quickly with Manchester.I cannot remember the last time I went to Leeds.I do not care about whether it takes me 40 or 30 minutes to get between Leeds,or Liverpool.Where investment is needed, is in the cities themselves.People need to be able to get from Leeds station for example to Headingley,without having to go on an overcrowded bus or shell out for an expensive taxi.This is the problem with our great regional cities. Not getting to them,but getting efficiently around them. Birmingham a city of over 1 million people is a joke. Rather than build Crossrail two,why didn’t that money get spent on an underground for Birmingham and proper transport links for Leeds,the extention of Manchester’s Metrolink and upgrading Liverpool’s underground.What use is a fast link between Leeds and Manchester,if Leeds people cannot get from where they live to Leeds station.

By Elephant

Leeds is the financial capital of the North and the second largest conurbation. The Manchester to Leeds train is the most congested on the Northern network, and is far slower than it should be. Linking the two makes absolute sense. Leeds doesn’t have a tram but the road links are pretty good, as are the local trains and buses, especially to Headingley.

By Gallagher

The average speed of the Liverpool to Manchester train is slower than the Leeds to Manchester one, but those proposing HS3 won’t tell you that. Leeds and Manchester have 5 transpennine trains an hour, soon to be six, taking around 50 minutes. Liverpool has two, one of them also taking around 50 minutes and another that is supposed to take 32 minutes. Each then have a complement of secondary services between them. The most frequent complaint in a MEN video survey last year with respect to Leeds to Manchester trains being overcrowded is that TPE only put 3 carriages on. So put 6 carriages on! The passengers from Liverpool would appreciate it too.

As for Leeds being the financial capital of the North. Besides that we already have a capital city (called London), doesn’t that then infer that Leeds doesn’t really need another boost to its inward investment status, that in fact more real value could be added by starting this project in Liverpool, in so doing giving its economy a major boost.

However, given the issues to do with the distorted way that Leeds and Liverpool are currently being measured (Leeds, as the whole county of West Yorkshire, but Liverpool primarily only its urban core, and even at times less than that) it is, anyway, very difficult to tell which city has the best claim to “financial centre”. Even on established figures, Liverpool is already the country’s second centre for Wealth Management as measured in billions of Pounds. Throw in Chester, and the picture is muddier still.

By MIke

A fact omitted in the part about Leeds having 6 TPEs and hour and Liverpool only 2 is that Manchester to Liverpool has twice the number of travellers than Leeds to Manchester. And a similar pattern follows for other modes. As such, it already appears a faulty premise that HS3 between the two would do anything at all to boost travel. If you provide a decent train every 10 minutes and people still don’t use it, why would they if you build a tunnel (and probably double to price to use it)?

By MIke

In response to Gallagher. My point is why do we need to spend billions to knock ten minutes off a journey to Leeds? Osborne thinks the North is like London where all roads lead and people are desperate to get between all the cities,within it.A few might,but most of us work within the conurbations,where we live.One way to reduce times between Manchester and Leeds is have Non-Stop trains every hour.Why does every train need to stop at stops en route?Good connections to Headingley may be the case,but there are parts of Leeds,which must be hard to get to and nobody in 2016,wants to be walking to a bus station,searching for a bus to do business.Manchester works better because there are direct links between most places from Piccadilly by tram. I think Leeds and other cities,should have the same. If Leeds is the financial capital? Why is it behind even Nottingham,Newcastle and Sheffield for transport links.This is a ludicrous.My personal view is that we need to link Merseyside and Greater Manchester economically and South and West Yorkshire.This makes much more sense.

By Elephant

I beg to differ that just a few people travel between Leeds and Manchester each day. As a user of both rail and road between the two I experience congestion on both. Anyone using the M62 during rush hour will know that there are (perhaps surprisingly?) high numbers of people commuting between the two. Surely, if we are to become a “Northern Powerhouse” then we have to have good transport between ALL cities across the north and not be squabbling about whether it will reach Liverpool or not.

By Roe Digger

The Victorian legacy rail around Manchester is an overt mess. The rail around Manchester needs updating to allow fast inter-city trains to run at full line speed ‘through’ the city, as the city is between the North West and West Yorks. Manchester is a rail bottleneck. That is obvious. A west-east tunnel through the city is needed that runs under Victoria station. Not a 7.5 dead-end HS2 tunnel from the south-west to inefficient Piccadilly terminal station tat will take a few trains every hour. Terminal stations in inland cities are highly inefficient. Berlin over time got rid of them making them all through stations creating a number of efficient ‘crossrails’. Yet Osborn has got the National Infrastructure Commission to lay down conceptual design for updating Manchester Piccadilly terminal station. They are detached from reality.

* It needs all Gtr Manchester rail centralized at one large ‘through’ flagship ‘hub’ station – Victoria, with Piccadilly terminal closed down as it is past its sell by date. Terminal stations are an expensive negative legacy of the Victorian era. It has to be put right.

* Centralizing on one through ‘hub’ station gives a number of crossrail lines through Gtr Manchester.

* Victoria needs to service HS2 & HS3 and local rail, so all at one point.

* A long, straight Pennine tunnel is needed to take high-speed train that emerges between Leeds and Sheffield.

* A new high-speed line is needed to Liverpool. This will give extra capacity on existing rail line for essential freight out of the Port of Liverpool. The rail is predicted to triple out of the port. A serious problem.

* The new high-speed line from Liverpool to Manchester can be the access point for the north-south HS2.

* Even trains from Sheffield can run west though the HS3 Pennine tunnel and up the West Coast Main Line to Scotland reducing travel times.

* Even trains from Birmingham can run east though the HS3 Pennine tunnel and up to Leeds reducing travel times.

It is not difficult and as billions are to be spent the above points should all be addressed to merge HS2 and HS3 across the north of England. This is the ideal opportunity to get it right and benefit HS2, HS3 and Gtr Manchester. If it is not seized it will be lost for a very long time.

By John

@Roe Digger
You are right in that all northern cities should have excellent, high-speed rail between them. Mike is right, the Liverpool to Manchester leg should be built first for a number of highly logical reasons.

The port of Liverpool is set to ‘triple’ it’s rail fright usage. The port is everyone’s port as it is essential for the northern economy. Goods must move in and out of the port efficiently and cheaply to make northern companies competitive. Liverpool is the only blue water port on that coast. Shifting passengers onto a new HS3 high-speed line releases capacity on the existing network for essential freight.

Twice as many people per day travel between Liverpool and Manchester than Manchester to Leeds.

A high-speed HS3 line from Liverpool to Manchester can act as the access to HS2 for Liverpool ‘and’ Manchester, giving fast lines to London, Birmingham and Scotland. Using this HS3 line eliminates miles of HS2 line scything though Cheshire countryside.

By John

There are a lot of dodgy stats and assertions thrown about in this debate. What people don’t realise is that transport planning is a highly technical discipline yet there are people who wouldn’t dream of telling a surgeon or engineer how to do their job but seem to think they are qualified to plan multi-billion pound bits of infrastructure. It defies belief!

The fact is that plans that we see being formulated are done so on the back of reams of detailed analysis and specialised technical knowledge. There are no options that have not already been thought about and evaluated as part of an options appraisal.

By Mad John Sunday

@Mad John Sunday,
The concept is not detailed engineering. It is also political and have become a complete mess. HS2 was nailed before HS3 (NPR) was a concept. The whole of the northern HS2 and HS3 has to be re-thought-out for them to mesh together. One thing is clear is that the rail in Manchester is a mess and has to be sorted to enable:

1) Fast and seamless HS3 through Manchester;
2) Ease of HS2 access from all major cities – in Liverpool & Manchester’s case via HS2 high-speed track;
3) Excellent urban rail around Manchester giving number of crossrails;
4) Ease of freight access to Liverpool’s port.

By John

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