The Government has unveiled fresh proposals for the High Speed Two rail link to boost Northern Powerhouse Rail connections, including additional platforms at Piccadilly station and at Manchester Airport.
Four platforms were originally planned for Manchester Piccadilly but this could become six, under the latest designs. Similarly, the number of platforms at Manchester Airport could be increased to four, from two originally.
An extra northbound HS2 service from Crewe is also mooted in the Department for Transport’s latest HS2 consultation published on Wednesday, on Phase 2b of the route. The Crewe proposal would see it serve as a major hub on the HS2 network.
The consultation follows recommendations from the Whitehall-commissioned Oakervee Review, on how to deliver HS2 in smaller sections and also how to integrate it with North of England transport initiatives intended to improve connections and boost the region’s economy, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail.
HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are an integral part of this country’s future rail network, vital for improving connections between our biggest cities and regions, boosting jobs and kickstarting economic growth as we build back better.
“This consultation will ensure passengers and business have their say in delivering a rail network that meets their needs, providing better journeys across the Midlands and the North as quickly as possible.”
Legislation for Phase 2a, the segment of the line from Birmingham to Crewe, is being considered by parliament at present. The consultation for Phase 2b closes on 11 December and legislation covering the Crewe to Manchester route will then be developed.
Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership last month asked the Government for support in developing a commercial hub – possibly an enterprise zone – around the Crewe North HS2 station, as part of a wider funding submission.
The LEP claims that development of Crewe North and surrounding infrastructure would represent a £200m investment in the region.
Clare Hayward, chair of the LEP, said: “HS2 represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Crewe and is a transformative infrastructure programme that supports levelling-up across the region as a whole.
“As part of our [funding] submission ahead of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, we set out proposals for a High-Speed Growth Corridor around the HS2 hub at Crewe.
“It will deliver high value jobs, housing and infrastructure in Crewe, Winsford and parts of Warrington as well as making a significant contribution to wider economic growth across the sub-region.
“Clarity and certainty around of the Crewe North Connection plus Government support for the High-Speed Growth Corridor will provide a bright future for Crewe”
Meanwhile, Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse rail director at lobby group Transport for the North, said: “HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, delivered together in full, would tackle head-on the productivity gap between the North and the South, and provide the modern, fit-for-purpose railway the North so badly needs.”
“Together, the two projects will form the backbone of a futureproof rail network for our region. But we must ensure that this investment allows for benefits to be shared equally across the North. Northern Powerhouse Rail relies on parts of HS2 infrastructure being built to run its trains too.
“Therefore, it is vital the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan commits to bringing forward plans for the HS2 eastern leg connecting the Midlands with Yorkshire, including Sheffield and Leeds, and getting spades in the ground in the North as soon as possible.”