Alternative Piccadilly HS2 Proposal
The plan moots an underground through-station, instead of an above-ground terminus above ground

Alternative HS2 Piccadilly hub ‘could save billions’

Dan Whelan

Fresh proposals for a Manchester HS2 station could eliminate the need for one of the second phases of the rapid-rail network – the part connecting Birmingham and Leeds – saving billions of pounds and unlocking development sites, its proponents say. 

Under the alternative proposal from architecture studio Weston Williamson + Partners and consultancy Expedition, a “through station” at Manchester Piccadilly, rather than the existing terminus plans, would allow services from Birmingham to Manchester to continue towards the North East of England and Leeds. 

Deciding not to go ahead with the Birmingham to Leeds section of HS2 would save “several billions of pounds”, the two firms said, although they did not provide an exact figure. 

The reconfiguration would require a high-speed rail tunnel beneath central Manchester that curves to the north-east to follow the M62 corridor towards a new trans-Pennine tunnel and Leeds, the proposal shows. 

A high-speed parkway station would be constructed, close to Junction 20 of the M26, to serve the Rochdale and Oldham communities. 

Under the existing proposals, which have been drawn up by the High Speed Two rail company and Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 trains arriving in Manchester would have to reverse out of the station before continuing their journeys. 

The plans include an above-ground terminus next to the existing station. However, the Weston Williamson + Partners and Expedition design team proposes an underground station that would unlock development opportunities above ground.

HS2 Alternative Piccadilly

The alternative proposal would eliminate the need for phase 2b of HS2, the design team says

By developing the station below ground level, the team said it can create a “business district” and “new opportunities for commercial development” above ground and avoid “urban severance” to the east of the station – a potential risk inherent in the existing terminus proposal. 

“The opportunity for extensive new commercial developments, adjacent to and above the new high-speed railway station, offers the potential for the new low-level station to be part-funded by the real estate value of such developments,” according to the team. 

The alternative proposal also provides scope for a “new urban quarter” and regeneration opportunities around Store Street, Chapeltown Street and the Ashton canal, an area which would be known as Station Square, according to the two firms.

Weston Williamson and Expedition’s High Speed Station Square proposal has been submitted in to response to a call in March from the Government’s National Infrastructure Commission for evidence on the existing proposals. 

Manchester City Council has a strategic regeneration framework in place, drawn up by Bennetts Associates, Mott MacDonald and BuroHappold,  for the area around Piccadilly Station to prepare it for the potential arrival of HS2.

The framework includes a full overhaul of the railway station itself and almost 2.9m sq ft of office space.

Some 261,000 sq ft of retail space, 5,000 apartments and 250 hotel rooms have also been mooted.

Much of the proposed development would be to the north of the station, in areas designated as East Village, Piccadilly North, Piccadilly Central and Piccadilly Heights.

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Cancel the whole wasteful project. The world has changed

By Anonymous

The Northern powerhouse rail link for Liverpool, appears to be altered/ scrapped under this proposal. i.e. having to travel now through Manchester for journeys to Scotland or heading down to Crewe to go north, instead of a direct route?
I am sure this was not intentional (cough, cough!) But some mention should have been made by the authors of this instead of a very small and hard to see map?

By Liverpolitis

A win for Leeds/Bradford and a strengthening of Manchester’s place as the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, but the losers here in Nottingham and the East Midlands I’m sure will be making loud noises as to their loss of high-speed rail capacity and the hub. All in all a better proposal than before and far more sensible, allowing trains to pass through Manchester uninterrupted – fancy a high speed train reversing to rejoin the line (as in the first proposal) a ludicrous proposition and completely contrary to the efficiencies such by such a line.

By Desseisor

What about Sheffield?

By Elephant

Why not shunt the underground station north-westwards, so one end is accessed from the existing station and the other end from Picc gardens.

By Bob

What about Liverpool’s connections being reduced?

By Just saying!

Good question Elephant. This would then be an opportunity for a secondary line from the East-West NPR project. Currently that was planned (considered is probably a better word) for Liverpool Manchester Bradford Leeds, but as many pointed out then, what about Shefiield. If we are already having an extension of Manchester Bradford Leeds with HS2, then we have that section of crossrail complete, once connected to Liverpool. There should also then be a secondary branch splitting from MCR Sheffield Leeds.

This won’t solve everything as there will still be all the problems of Sheffield to London. And, the whole point of HS2 was to alleviate capacity issues on all those mainlines. By having fully segregated tracks between MCR, Leeds to London via Birmingham, we could dedicate the existing lines to local services and greatly improve efficiency and frequencies. For instance, MCR or Leeds could finally have a high frequency suburban rail network like Paris’ RER or German’s S-bahn systems by simply dedicating all their existing lines as all-station suburban trains. But I don’t know how this change would affect that


Let’s focus on improving east-west links between northern towns and cities, as well as better connectivity between the north west and the East Midlands. It’s already quick and easy to get to Birmingham and London.

By Anonymous

No great loss, the east Midlands connection is a piece of railway land looking for a use and why go to London via Birmingham on HS2 when you can go via Trent junction on MML or via Grantham on ECML in less time.

By Nottm man

people need to stop whingeing, it’s not a wasteful project, it’ll boost the economy and allow us to save so much precious time when travelling

By Anonymous

I do not think this is good proposal. HS3/NPR is the real game changer for the North and this minimises the benefits of this for greater alignment with London. I think we need to get away from London being the centre of everything in this country. It is fine for Manchester to be at heart of the Northern Powerhouse but it should have very fast and direct links with Liverpool, Sheffield etc. A very fast Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester HS-line should be relatively cheap and a quick win.

Given that HS2/HS3 does not meet treasury value for the money arguments I think the main arguments for it still going ahead are (a) to stimulate the economy post-COVID-19, and (b) the moral argument that the North and other regions need investment and stimulus to grow their economies. Both arguments mean that ALL major cities should be treated equally and fairly.

By Chris

This actually a really Smart idea, hope it gets some traction

By Jon P

Agree, with the below comment. The north, and the whole country for that matter, does not need such a project.

By Observer

@Liverpolitis – It seems to show HS2 track running to Runcorn but not through to Liverpool. This is displayed as HS2 phase b, not NPR, and is all about cost saving on that 2nd spear from Birmingham to Leeds. As pointed out by others though this is at the expense of East Midlands, and Sheffield

By L17

I’m with Extinctiion Rebellion, get it cancelled, save the environment

By Mark

I can’t tell from the plans, but if they were to use the ‘saved’ overground space to create a new bus interchange in replacement of Piccadilly Gardens this would be a real winner.

By Anonymous

Yes, great idea. I have always been an advocate of an underground station at Picadilly (Store Street as I prefer to call it)(HS2~M’cr Central) One is able to get onboard the Euston express(couple of stops) alternatively jump on the North bound HS2 service to Leeds and York (stopping once near J20 on the M62, serving Oldham and Rochdale. Wigan is served by HS2 but no station?? It requires a station (HS2~GM’cr West) and ofcourse the airport station (HS2~GM’cr South /Airport). So 3 stations, the HS2 M’cr West will be the point of access to the west coast main line (Lancaster, Carlisle, the Lakes and Glasgow onto the Highlands. I been banging on about a M’cr~Sheff link for a long time. Travel time should be 20/25 minutes, as well as a dedicated freight line M’cr~Sheff ~Immingham. If passengers in Sheffield can arrive (underground) in Store Street (pic/Central) in 20 minutes they can continue journey to London /Bristol and arrive in 60 minutes. Alternatively a tourist in London can board a train in Euston, Rock up in M’cr Central in 63 minutes and be in York 40/45minutes later. Also a passenger could board train at M’cr Central(11:00am/midday) head to Euston, change to HS1 and arrive in Paris mid/late afternoon .I have considered this option for a while now and it makes the most sense in terms of efficiency and cost. Liverpool connects at 3 points,, Crewe, Airport and Wigan. It connects more people in the North than the initial plan would achieve.. Levelling up!! For real (not words on a brochure) should mean work on the huge STORE ST underground platforms and facilities should start now as it is such a huge job,, 12 km of tunnels to the airport and mucho tunneling to the north (Leeds),,, under and along the M62. The proposed stop at J20 Rochdale /Oldham is going to require plenty of car parking space as it will serve huge population. All of the above is necessary not a deluxe option but is a great start. Provision for bikes/E~bikes must be a priority on all trains/trams. It must be cheap to take a bike along and secure also recharge facilities on all trains and stations. It should be possible for people living in Oldham and Rochdale to visit Whitby/Scarborough for the day and the journey times under 2-2.5 hours,,,, that’s starting to look more level to me.

By Robert Fuller

The original High Speed link to the North that was agreed on and submitted was direct to Manchester and a spur to Leeds. Think Leeds then pushed for a direct line and it was scrapped. On a side note, if we were to go under ground with it then it would be great to bring Manchester Central back for it rather than Piccadilly.

By Loganberry

Sounds interesting; a ‘t’ rather than a ‘v’.

The more plans turn towards joining up the northern cities the better, imo. A quick, reliable and affordable connection between Liverpool-Manc-Leeds-Newcastle has to be a priority over knocking a few minutes off a trip to London, and surely has to have more potential benefits.

By Thumbs Up

Great idea.
Living near sheffield we were getting a bad deal from HS2 anyway. (Slow spur on existing lines) I will continue to use Doncaster to go south.
Save the money reinvest elsewhere


Sheffield currently gets nothing from hs2 anyway. It only gets a slow spur so we lose nothing significant. When the took away the high speed Meadowhall station away from Sheffield City Region they took Sheffield out of the equation. That’s why Rotherham and Doncaster Councils still oppose it, as do Wakefield and Bolsover councils. This plan to go via Manchester has been put forward by several rail engineers previously and makes total sense. It saves money and saves the destruction another section of hs2 would cause. Thank goodness this idea is now getting some attention.

By Sandra Haith

I recall seeing something similar a couple of years ago, which makes you wonder whether this hasn’t been the plan for a long time.

Suffice to say the UK’s allergy to connecting Liverpool, the country’s main west facing port & major city, continues unabated.

By Mike

@ L17, The current proposals show four routes including the very feint dotted line of the NPR link. The recommended one has only three routes with the Liverpool section missing it’s link to the main line at Warrington I believe.
Therefore a detour is inevitable either via Manchester or Crewe.
The route through Runcorn as you point out takes the train to the above and not connected to the main line hub/connection at Warrington
According to this proposal that is what they envisage and are advocating.
So I ask this question “are you happy that Liverpool loses out again at the expense of other cities again?”
I am not for sure!

By Liverpolitis

This proposal is far superior to the eastern leg of hs2, that has significant cost and will take longer to build than phase 1. The current route impacts significantly more properties and is poorly mitigated. NPR made the mistake of trying to integrate with sections of that HS2 and as such there are no deliverable benefits for maybe 15 years.
Sheffield needs better connectivity to Leeds & Manchester now , not a reliance on hs2 .
Scrap the eastern leg and push on with this better solution.

By Anonymous

I fully agree with this proposal.

By Ian

Liverpolitis – the journey via Birmingham -Manchester – Leeds is virtually the same as Birmingham – Leeds if you check out the mileage. So no deficit.

By Sandra Haith

If we cannot get HS2 scrapped then this is the best alternative.
It would at least solve part of the problem of travel difficulties over the Pennines

By Rob Elliott

Fascinating range of comments, to a question with no, one right answer.
Whether you agree or not, this is a fascinating SPECULATIVE proposal by two major London-based design studios, for the wider Northern economy. They have taken the trouble to put in an incredible amount of thinking, drawing on their experience from around the globe….. why would we not want to engage in the debate?

Good on them for joining up dots so many are missing….. this drives the debate forward, it does not stifle any of the other links discussed above, far from it.

Hub and spoke idea, as old as…….

By Pete Swift

Given that total HS2 traffic volumes are now likely to be much lower than planned, the link from Birmingham to Leeds looks to be an unaffordable white elephant. Also, taking the Crewe to Manchester link onward, north easterly under Manchester, would avoid the Victorian concept of a central terminus, which requires a large surface terminal.

By Bill Wombell

Great idea hopefully all goes ahead sooner the better. ……A London underground network can be built around greater and central Manchester would be fantastic. A smaller London in Manchester. Maybe oneday. …would be built so much quicker with today’s modern tunnelling machines and technologies

By Anonymous

Both Nottingham and Derby would be better off with this scheme as they would have direct HS2 train services from their existing city centre stations. The proposed HS2 East Midlands station at Toton is effectively a “Ryanair” station solution that suits neither Derby or Nottingham as it would be comparatively difficult to access.

By Forestero

@Sandra, Hi Sandra, My concern is that we(Liverpool) were recently “promised” a link via Warrington or similar and this would enable more direct route to Scotland etc. This seems to now to have been dropped by this proposal.
With regard to Birmingham – Leeds I was not referring to that section, only the fact that with NPR being dropped directly from the system, travellers from/to Liverpool would have to make a big dog leg to get where to they want to go. Cheers

By Liverpolitis

What a waste of money.

By Liverpool1

The article is also noticeably lacking in what seem to be some considerable changes to the Liverpool route as proposed by NPR, no link South, seem to be a case that there are costs savings at Liverpools expense which is where the money will come from.

By John B

At last somebody talking common sense & looking at the bigger picture, saving money AND the environment at the same time!!!

By Fiona Banks

This makes perfect sense. Why build a third line when 2 will do the job? It destroys too much of our countryside as it is. Any demolition savings to homes and businesses must be a gigantic plus, as well as protecting some of our valuable countryside and natural habitats/woodland. I think hs2 should be scrapped altogether, but 2 lines is better than 3 if it must proceed.

By Patricia cliff

Why the heck is this decided by home-counties types in London? Is it now clear as day that the problem with our Northern England (and neighbouring) infrastructure is not what, how, when, but that we (we are professional Northerners by the way. Can you believe such arrogance?) are being ruled (our economy, business ecology) and decided upon by, basically, outsiders. Would you let outsiders run your business? But we don’t tell them to clear off. We just moan. Change has got to come.

By James Hayes

East Village? No more ‘villages’ inside cities, thank you very much. And all these ‘Piccadillies’ in the middle of MANCHESTER? I’ll never forgive the dopes who decided that.

By James Hayes

This proposal has been flying around for a long time, and that’s because it makes total sense. What is the point in building 2 sections of phase 2 when 1 can do the job? Think of the environmental savings!

By Stephen Haith

This alternative proposal sound really well thought out and I feel gives a very real alternative. The route through Sheffield doesn’t benefit anyone in South Yorkshire so if it’s not going to be scrapped then this alternative route seems the best option yet

By Ruth

Not needed, spent money on other things that are a priority

By Anonymous

Liverpool left out ONCE AGAIN. I will be addressing these issues in the next public council meeting as to why liverpool is always left out.

By Northernboy

ooooo nice shiny new tower and billions more spent on Manchester for a through tunnel! Sounds about right given the trend with HS2 and it’s obsession with dragging the line to Manchester at all costs. Sheffield dumped entirely, longer journey times to London for Leeds, Liverpool still in classic tracks with a dog leg to Manchester airport still but hey, look, shiny new stuff in Manchester!!!

This obsession with creating an all consuming northern capital will never end.

By Michael McDonough

I think this is a much better proposal as they will need to go underground at Piccadilly at some point. Might as well do it sooner.
I would prefer it if there was a faster link to Liverpool as well, but Leeds will do!

By Anonymous

Absolutely agree with this . Hope this gets real examination by the government.

By tony

Looks like an incredibly expensive yet poorly executed attempt at denying the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East any better rail services in the future. Sheffield in particular would become a real backwater. It also destroys the use of the eastern branch HS2 tracks as a fast link between Leeds and Sheffield. I think these proposers have a hidden agenda to scupper part of HS2, not to enhance overall transport links in the north. A tunnel under Manchester is not the best way to spend money effectively.

By Vulcan's Finest

Anything that saves money is a good idea. Use the existing lines we dont need expensive HS2.

By Sue Coope

If the HS2 cannot be canceled this new proposal would provide a better solution benefitting everyone and saving money which can be used to better the whole country or used to provide better broadband that can be used for people working from home that will become the norm. thus reducing the need for HS2

By David Sears

Seems a more sensible approach.

By John Evans

This is a better plan than the current shambles. HS2 Ltd need to be removed and let the northern powerhouse provide Connectivity across the Midlands and North. Transparency and accountability are needed, both absent with HS2. NO MORE BONUSES.

By John Thorley

Stop HS2 in the south and consult with the NORTH properly and see what they need not give them what you think they need as they know best .

By Hancock

makes much more sense than the original proposal as well has having a positive impact on costs

By Ian Newham

scrap this waste of money. You are destroying peoples lives and devastating nature which cannot be replaced

By Marie

I had already costed a very similar scheme, using HS2 costings, which I obtained under FIA requested. Saving is at least £11 billion and may be nearer to £15 billion as HST cost base is at least 5 years out of date. But most importantly the economic benefits used to justify HS2 could be achieved 10 years earlier, dramatically improving the whole scheme business case.

By Adrian Millward

Today, the Govt announced £1bn of school building funding over the next 10 years. In the past 5 years, over £7bn has been spent on HS2 without a single piece of track being laid. The pandemic and working from home has proved we don’t need this vanity train; it was sold on the basis of speed but now that’s been shot down it’s suddenly about capacity with claims that trains to London from the north are at capacity, which is a blatant lie. The world HAS changed. The HS2 demographic was to transfer office based staff from the north to London. That model is dead. Money needs to be spent improving short commuting for the masses in the midlands & the north.

By Elsie

New proposal makes sense and saves money. HS2b does not benefit the communities along the route who will suffer the inconvenience.

By Anonymous

This is a much more sensible idea, particularly in the current climate.

By Andrea Hughes

This is a really sensible proposal and I hope the government will consider it. If the Eastern leg of HS2 is to be dropped then the govt should electrify the existing Midland Main Line and the lines from Sheffield to Doncaster and Leeds.

By Harold

Scrap the whole thing, covid pandemic has shown we can manage with out it. We need to save the environment not make London the be all and end all of England!

By Susan

@ Sandra Haith. I live just outside M’cr and therefore if I want any kind of city experience that is where I usually head. Choice however is good, I would love to explore Sheffield but it’s a military operation getting there on train. I’ve always backed HS2,, but thought the Leeds leg expensive and uneccassary. With a fast (>Sheff >>Immingham. But yeah a 25 minute (ish) dash between the two cities would be great.

By Robert Fuller

This is the S shaped option that HS2 ruled out probably 10 years ago now, on the basis it would not provide sufficient passenger traffic beyond Birmingham compared to the option of joining eastern and western routes there.

By TheBolt

Given the current situation I cannot understand why on earth the Government is hell bent on spending this ridiculous amount of money on something that is clearly not wanted or needed by the vast majority of tax paying people in this country! If the whole project cannot/ will not be stopped then it is surely prudent to take every opportunity to reduce the cost wherever possible and this proposal would seem like a sensible way to do that.

By Meg Haselden

I just wish the NIMBYs would just shut up about HS2 – we desperately need extra capacity on the railways – end of..! Perhaps the Extinction Rebellion and other environmentalists groups would like to see us flying more, which was what has been happening due to the inadequate, poor state of our 19th century railways. I’m not in favour of just serving the North-West, the East Midlands matter, too!

By Kevin McAuley

Scrap the lot and build more small airports for private airplanes to use all business people will soon have their own planes free up the roads for pleasure travel.

By Anonymous

This new option seems to be well thought through and would appear to be of greater benefit that the existing proposal. Plus the saving of billions of tax payers money has to be a distinct advantage.

By Chris Westgarth

This makes sense. Let’s at least save a few billion from this whole dreadful mess!

By June Hayes

Very Bad Idea….which would consign the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East to the economic slow lane for generations.
Current rail links between Birmingham, Nottingham/Leicester, and Leeds are appalling and cannot meaningfully be improved without HS2 Eastern Leg. A huge amount of economic development activity and investment already committed to the East Midlands Hub Station at Toton, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds and further up the ECML in York, Darlington and Newcastle would be compromised. These places matter to UK plc and cannot be marginalised if we are to ‘level-up’ the economy. It is not all about Manchester!

By EastMidsMan

This article is misconceived. As I understand it trains for Yorkshire wouldn’t have to reverse in Piccadilly. The underground section is already planned to continue on and curve eastwards. But London to Leeds trains would have a 30% or more increase in journey times and would not serve the East Midland and South Yorkshire City regions. There would also be unacceptable extra train congestion under Piccadilly.

But the present proposals are not good enough anyway. A Manchester hub needs a proper new, light and spacious terminal on the surface, serving all Manchester routes. This could be located in the Victoria and Red Bank area. The Arena could be moved northwards onto the Strangeways site and there would be a lot less tunnelling.

By J Davies

What about Barnoldswick?


What journey time saving would Leeds get under this new route?

By Disgruntled Goat

Much better alternative and saves peoples homes but also at the moment saves money ! If you take the emotional side out of the equation ( which is difficult to do) this fact alone should make it a done deal and will also make it look as if the PM is Actually listening.

By Jacqueline Hazzledine

Interesting proposal. I’m generally supportive. There needs to be more clarification on further NPR extensions though.

So much NIMBYism. People really shouldn’t comment about things they don’t understand. Extra capacity is needed not just for passengers, but for freight. This will free up local lines for better local transport. Journey times are just a small part of it; connectivity is still important.

And stop citing the pandemic and working from home As reasons we don’t need it. It shows a total lack of intelligence to how an economy functions. This is project for generations to use, not just now. We need to connect our cities up. People need to travel. Commuting needs to get better. Cars on the roads need to come down. The more I try to explain the more I realise people don’t actually want justified reasons, for some reason they want to complain for the sake of it…

By Mike

The whole vanity project should be scrapped. It is not and never has been needed.

By Old Hack

Using Manchester as a hub is in effect isolating both the East and West coasts in the North. Manchester was initially the terminus. Wasn’t NPR originally a Liverpool to Hull project? An Underground shuttle via Warrington to Liverpool would be a good idea from Manchester airport.

By Elephant

It`s not fair all this Manchester favouritism.

By MmcDrama Queen

Andy Burnham and MCC would rather have a through-station for Northern Powerhouse Rail. This is nothing new. Naturally a through-station for HS2 in combination with Northern Powerhouse Rail would open up more possibilities but I expect to date it’s been too costly to make the business case stack up.

The real questions this article should have answered:
– Who are Weston Williamson + Partners and Expedition and what’s their incentive for doing this?
– Did they consult anyone (starting with HS2 or NPR)?

Lots of people can make fancy pictures but it takes £billions to develop a scheme like HS2 properly.

By Superhans

Another dismissal of Liverpool just to serve the needs of Manchester. We need to start articulating and challenging this continual dynamic of undermining our city.

By StAugustin

If you were in Leeds why would you say yes to this? It says you value you connection to Manchester more than you value your connection to London?

By Rich X

The eastern leg of HS2 is not needed as uprating the existing lines equals HS2 times to London. HS2 consultants GreenGauge 21 state in the forword of their document “Beyond HS2”, that uprating the ECML with faster trains gives HS2 times from London to Newcastle. The ECML takes half the traffic of the WCML, so no capacity problems. Taking Leeds to London in a circuitous route via Manchester will not give faster times over uprating more direct existing lines, using faster trains. Train technology has overtaken the need for widespread adoption of high speed rail.

NPR needs to be from Liverpool to Hull via east-west aligned Manchester Victoria, not Piccadilly which faces the wrong way, with a fast ‘base’ tunnel under the Pennines. NPR then will act as a national ‘linear hub’, as all main north-south mainlines can branch into it, giving superb route flexibility. E.g., Nottingham to Liverpool, Manchester or Glasgow is quick and easy via NPR.

By John

Great idea which makes so much sense. Electrify the whole of the Midland Main Line and this would make the journeys to the East Midlands (Leicester, Derby and Nottingham) as well as to Chesterfield and Sheffield so much quicker.

By Anon

I live in the north of the East Midlands and represent Teversal, Skegby and Stanton Hill Neighbourhood Forum, this alternative proposal is considerably preferable to the current proposal. Our area currently stands to be decimated for many years to come if the current proposal goes forward, with no tangible gains for its residents, visitors and the majority of local businesses.
Whether the current or this alternative proposal we still have to either travel to Chesterfield to get the train to London or Newark for a faster (better) train.
Sheffield also is already getting a bad deal from HS2 anyway, via a slow spur on existing lines. Many will continue to use Doncaster to go south.
However for this to be successful, and really benefit our area there must be considerable investment put into the current Midland Mainline (classic rail network) to bring it up to meet modern day standards and make it fit for purpose for the future, including electrification and new rolling stock.

By Anonymous

Wasn’t the main and original justification for HS2 the inadequate and dated capacity of the WCML? Surely not an issue to anything like the same extent on the Eastern side, which is served by ECML and also by MML, and which in itself would probably not have been a catalyst for thinking along HS2 lines. As this proposal still incorporates West Yorkshire, and addresses the NPR issue also, it seems an eminently sensible cost saving solution which meets the original and fundamental issue of the pressure on WCML. Particularly if combined with upgrade to the MML.

By Observer

Any proposal that saves public money on major infrastructure projects has to be given serious consideration and thoroughly investigated without bias. A north west to Leeds and on to the north east new rail line has to make more sense, it would make that connection that has been needed for years.

By Graham Heasman

Unfortunately with the incumbent mayor of Liverpool more concerned with gimmicky schemes such as zip wires and puppets and lamblasting the government at every opportunity and then asking them for more money, we have little chance of attracting serious investment into Liverpool, fair do’s to Manchester they seem to have lots of them a month.
It is clearly time for a change at the top in Liverpool just to give us a sporting chance:(

By Liverpolitis

Dear Mr Elephant, What about Sheffield? Easy peasy. Use the Woodhead Line. There is space for another two tracks as far as Guide Bridge, still just inside Lancashire, this side of the River Tame, hardly any trains run as far as Hadfield, and then just widen the old tunnels. The line is already electrified. On the other side of the moors, you can head east to Barnsley and beyond, west to Leeds, and south to Sheffield. The economic benefits are astronomical. Austria (Alps) has electricified tunnels throught the Alps, as does Switzerland, but UK has no money. As PM May said, money doesn’t grow on trees. Borrowing to invest has not yet been invented. When it is, they will call it economic investment (public) or capitalism (private). But it’s not been invented yet.

By James Yates

Dear Mr Anonymous,
Business folk like you travelling at corporate expense are obsolete. Global firms (Californian) don’t even have local offices now. Their staff have home offices. The need for “dead important” day trips to/from London is dead. But if you need to invest x billions of pounds, and your political sponsors insist on it, those billions do not disappear into thin air. They end up in somebody’s pocket. I’m not daft tha knows!

By James Yates

Excellent Idea saving billions

By Paul Fletcher

Good news for Manchester, this will be the major hub

By Jez

What a brilliant idea. Common sense at last with this plan.

By Graham Bradley

Sorry If I sound a bit callous, but Liverpool isn`t getting HS2. A whingefest on PNW isn`t going to change things. Lobby your MP`s, as they`re supposed to be there to help and represent you.

By Poynton guy

Excellent idea. Makes much more sense for the Northern cities

By Dorothy mellors

The eastern leg of HS2 is not needed as uprating the existing lines equals HS2 times to London. HS2 consultants GreenGauge 21 state in the foreword of their document “Beyond HS2”, that uprating the ECML with faster trains equals HS2 times from London to Newcastle. The ECML takes half the traffic of the WCML, so no capacity problems.

Taking Leeds to London in a circuitous route via Manchester will not give faster times over uprating more direct existing lines, using faster trains. Train technology has overtaken the need for widespread adoption of high speed rail.

NPR needs to be from Liverpool to Hull via east-west aligned expanded Manchester Victoria, not Piccadilly which faces the wrong way, with a fast ‘base’ tunnel under the Pennines. NPR then will act as a national ‘linear hub’, as all main north-south mainlines can branch into it, giving superb route flexibility – e.g., Nottingham to Liverpool, Manchester or Glasgow is quick and easy via NPR.

The key is a fast and straight NPR with a Pennines ‘base’ tunnel.

By John

This is so devisive. M’cr is in the right place, geographically. Crewe, were the first section of HS2 runs to is approximately 40 miles from M’cr (Picadilly ~loathe the name,, should be Store Street /central) so it would be a nonsense to not complete. Liverpool is a port to the extreme West so is naturally west of any main route, equate this with population and its a process of natural selection. I think money should be spent connecting Liverpool (hs ~trains) both to the airport utilising tunneling where expedient and another connection to Wigan (which is included in HS2, but gets no station, it should ~HS2-GM ~West /Wigan) Where it should be possible to make connections to all parts of GM and connections North, Lancaster, Carlisle, Newcastle and Glasgow. An underground trans~pennine route is a priority,,, journeys should take 20 minutes or less and then Sheffield,, woodhead tunnels reopened, New track/electrics is a must,,, journeys should be around the 25 minutes mark,,, with a vital continuation of this route to the port of Immingham. Allowing possibility of moving freight from Liverpool and Salford to Immingham and across to Europe. Hull should also be included with a better link to Sheffield. A fast link between Leeds and York would be great,, the approach to York should be tunneled. I also think there is a case for the old grand central,,, M’cr >>Sheff >>Nottingham >>Leicester >>Marylebone, it would be a big draw for tourists from everywhere, especially those foreigners. I have always (since school) used the railways and have used them in Europe and North Africa. The Moroccans have built a tgv (employing French engineers and French company’s to build it) I think there is 250/300km of track (phase1) there are speeds of approx 350kph. It was delivered on time and on budget €17.5b, I ain’t had the pleasure yet but it looks very impressive. And just to think that the first passenger railway in the world was between M’cr and L’pool…

By Anonymous

Lets not get carried away with the idea that this is a one-off piece of railway infrastructure. Look upon it it as the first part of a high speed network that serves the whole country eventually. Liverpool could get a direct connection via Crewe, Further north east and west links to York and Newcastle, Preston and to Scotland would be possible extensions. Lets not also forget the west Country and South and North Wales.
The current proposal for Birmingham to Leeds is a fudge at Toton. it does nothing to improve Derby and Nottingham links which already are directly served to London with considerable room for improvement on existing lines and with some minor works improve connections to Birmingham and Leicester. What is needed in the Midlands is an improvement to existing infrastructure and reopening of some extinct lines for better connectivity and commuter links to get people out of cars. The Toton hub proposal is nothing more than an engineering fudge to make use of a large brownfield site that used to be Toton sidings, connections to it from Nottingham and Derby would be slow and time consuming with journeys going direct as it is at the moment being more convenient.
A good starting point that achieves the original plan at a lower cost with better future opportunities.

By Roger Colton

Hs2 needs to be scrapped and work on upgrading old existing rail tracks and upgrade transport

By Johnny walker

As ever no matter how much money is saved Liverpool’s link is denied. I still think something politically odd is going on and Liverpool is on it but no doubt being duped again.

By Michael McDonut

This sounds a great idea, it makes total sense!

By Anonymous

Lets put money into, The Planet, People, Animals, and Nature the areas it is so desperately needed, before it’s too late!

By Concerned

Progress Progress progress progress… Let’s DEMOLISH people’s homes in the countryside that have been there for many years and give them peanuts for the properties. Yes progress.

By Darren born and bred Salford

This seems to be an excellent scheme saving money and releasing potential developments.
Totally in favour

By Frank Mann

Do we need this now? Some people will be working a lot from home now.

By John from Salford

@robertfuller I live in Sheffield City Region, not Sheffield itself. I visited the offices of SCR just before Christmas to discuss my concerns about the current phase 2b spur into Sheffield. I took loads of photos all in the vicinity of the town hall (ie. The city centre) and the for sale or to let signs were everywhere. My point to SCR was that if the aim of hs2 was to improve the local economy and attract investment, the lack of interest proved that the current route (spur) is of little help to Sheffield businesses. I dont support hs2 at all, but for those who do, a high speed station at Meadowhall would have been the ideal solution. Unfortunately hs2 needed to save money, so South Yorkshire was sacrificed. If Sheffield City region is to gain nothing from it why spend all that money on that third leg and why demolish existing businesses? The East Midlands and Leeds are still getting their hs2 connection from this new plan. Sheffield is losing nothing because we’re getting nothing anyway. Sheffield already have direct trains to both Leeds and Birmingham. Hopefully the Hope Valley upgrade will improve your journey from Manchester.

By Sandra

This through-track proposal will get knocked back but in about 30 years will get done anyway for about a 6-fold cost of what it would today.

By North by North-West

Why does criticism equate to Nimbysm? Covid 19 has made a difference. People still want to travel but not at previous levels. Why would you? Intelligence only seems to be demonstrated by those that support HS2 which makes me wonder whether they have ever communicated with HS2 Ltd. HS2 is a long term project with moveable end dates. HS2 is and has always been a glorified MP project. Under P2b South Yorkshire gets nothing- apart from negative impact. Once the route was changed to the M18 Route, it failed to have any credIbility. This alternative solution is better albeit not an immediate answer for commuters. Finally, HS2 Ltd is or has never been fit for purpose and removal of its services is an intrinsic part of the equation.


A far more sensible approach for facilitating capacity across the north of the country. I strongly feel local connections are required. The current Hs2 phase 2b proposal fails to deliver the needs of the north connections. It also has a hige price tag, which could be better spent, especially now! The proposal put forward in this article is a far more sensible approach

By Miss Martin

The problem with this proposal, is that the East Midlands misses out on the HS2 service, as well as much needed development that is needed for the long term regeneration of the East Midlands. A one time saving needs to be balanced against the long term regeneration and development of the East Midlands and South Yorkshire economies.

By Tash

Absolutely the best option for Manchester and the north. Some cost worthy infrastructure. We need to be looking the the distant future and create something that will still work for us all in another 50 years and beyond. Which ever way we look at it our world is getting bigger and Manchester and the north need to keep up and build big!

By Wayne Turner

The alternative proposal put forward here is the best option for the country.

By Fiona Ibbotson

I do hope that this will go ahead in the best practical way possible for the benefit of the whole country as a whole and levelling up access to comfortable, ecological, fast, modern and safe travel.

By Lesley

HS2,, the most widely accepted version, least contentious. London>>B’ham >>M’cr (South/Airport) >>M’cr (Central /Store St) >>Leeds (Central) >>York (center). There should be a HS connection from Sheffield >>M’cr (Central) and the HS stop at Wigan (M’cr West ~Wigan) ~connections to Liverpool, North Wales and Scotland. We been moaning in North England but Wales has been promised nothing. I propose HS~W from M’cr to Holyhead, via Llandudno and Bangor and the incredible Snowden national Park. We still missing a trick no matter how extensive the HS2 network is we need dedicated, upgraded, fast freight network, Liverpool, M’cr, Sheffield, Immingham and with major investment in the Humber energy region which is storing/distributing all that power generated in the North Sea. And of course HS2 should be running up the west coast line to Glasgow. In short the M’cr underground station with a tunneled trans~pennine to Leeds and York with same spec link Sheff>>M’cr would be a very good start.

By Robert Fuller

What a waste of money – could be spend improving local transport links e.g. An underground system for Manchester which has a big traffic problem.

And seriously why are people travelling such long distances between big cities across the UK on a regular basis? For work I suppose? I believe people need to start thinking twice about how they live in light of environmental problems. There is no need to be travelling such long distances.

People could work closer to where they live, eat produce from local areas, and scale it down before our species ruins the whole earth……
Hope people across the world can start making wise decisions, looking at the bigger picture, before it’s too late…..

By Kt