HS2 Manchester Picc Approach Map
HS2 map shows existing rail approaches to Piccadilly station

The North needs rail ‘super hub’ at Piccadilly

Sarah Townsend

Manchester Piccadilly should be transformed into a ‘super-hub’ rail link connecting the North with the future High Speed Two line, a report has urged.

To create the super hub, a tunnel should be created from Ordsall into Piccadilly from the west, which would then connect to HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, the proposed east-west rail link intended to open up the region, the report , Revisiting High Speed North by rail research company Greengauge21, said.

Fast trains from Chester and North Wales, Liverpool, Blackpool, Cumbria and Scotland could then travel through the super hub with services connecting eastwards and across the Pennines to Sheffield, Leeds, Hull, York and Newcastle.

HS2, by itself, will not be sufficient to accelerate the much needed “northern transport revolution”, the report added.

“It’s not enough to provide fast links between the major cities of the North. Simply put, the rail network in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield does not work and the North deserves better” the report’s authors, transport experts Ian Wray, David Thrower and Jim Steer, wrote.

“It is also essential to overcome existing bottlenecks, and to tie together more distant labour market areas and towns with the centres of the major cities like Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.”

The report’s publication comes in the week that tenders have gone out for £2bn of track supplier contracts for the massive HS2 rail project.

David Poole, procurement and commercial director at HS2, the company delivering the scheme, said in a statement: “Rail systems are some of the most important parts of the HS2 project – the high-tech equipment and systems that will allow our trains to deliver an unparalleled service in terms of speed, frequency and reliability.

“The launch of this new procurement contest is an important milestone for the project, and a significant opportunity for the industry and the wider supply chain.”

The contract is split into four lots worth a total of £1.95bn and covering each segment of the agreed rail link between London and Crewe. The four lots will together deliver 280km of track. However, proposals for a high-speed link north of Crewe are yet to be finalised.

The Greengauge21 report argues that northern rail networks face challenges that “cannot wait for [such] flagship schemes” as HS2.

An incremental strategy for upgrading existing networks instead needs to be mapped out “straight away”, it said.


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COVID has shown HS2 to be a white elephant even before the first meter of track has been laid

By Anonymous

@Anonymous, really, how has covid shown that? I work in an industry where we need to travel between cities and remote meetings just don’t cut it – we have no plans to spend less money and keep using remote meetings. Meetings are also not the only reason why people need to travel between cities. One of the first thing you will notice when lockdown ends will be masses of people travelling to see their loved ones across the country face to face.

That is only the least important part of HS2. The most important part is congestion relief. HS2 is not just about getting a high speed train from Manchester to London, but ALL about removing express trains off the existing Victorian network. This will have a huge benefit for half the country, allowing local trains to take control of their tracks and not have to wait behind the express trains.

For cities like Manchester, what you will find is that all that huge amount of railway infrastructure that we currently have but can’t be used effectively will have the opportunity finally to become usable, because we could finally have a proper suburban rail network in the city. Something like the S-bahn in Germany. If you ever go to Germany, you will notice that their high speed trains don’t share the same tracks as their suburban trains like ours and guess what… they work so much better. There is a reason why people laugh about our Victorian aged system and their efficient modern system.

Trying to find excuses like Covid to keep us using a Victorian rail system that is completely inefficient really won’t help us in the long run.


COVID has shown people can work remotely not that we don’t need rail travel anymore…

By Anonymous

“COVID has shown HS2 to be a white elephant even before the first meter of track has been laid” – May 05, 2020 at 12:51 pm By Anonymous


By the light of the moon

Anything from Greengauge21 is always worthy of being taken very seriously. This sounds very clear thinking to me

By Howard Piltz

Let’s get it done here Manchester and surrounding cities. ……not just London as it is already too expensive to live there and not very realistic for people to live in london where the average salary is 25k. …

By Cloud cokoo land

The sooner HS2 is built from Manchester to London the better.The whole of the North of England and Midlands will benefit like it has from Manchester International Airport.Miss this opportunity and the budget will be spent on rail infrastructure in London and the South East only.

By Peter Chapman

Re : EOD…..excellent post.Sums up the situation precisely.

By Peter Chapman

EOD – great points. I feel your effort is wasted in the face of the people who prefer to get their facts from the likes of the Daily Mail and The Sun, who will just drone on repetitively about whatever they’ve read in this morning’s tabloids, ignorant in the face of any facts. These types of people luckily make up about 90% of HS2’s opposition – which is why the project is going ahead

By Anonymous

Ridiculous, more people will drive and work from home in future

By Dan

COVID has shown that we cannot afford to blow £100bn (excluding the latest £bns Manchester trinket above) on a railway line which is mostly powered by PR agencies, lobby groups and oddballs.

COVID has shown that we need more people able to work locally, in towns and cities all around the region, and less reliance on all-eggs-in-one-basket commuting into fewer and fewer places.

It was not healthy before COVID to emaciate our towns and cities in favour of only Manchester and to a lesser extent Leeds. It certainly isn’t healthy now.

To continue the obsession of trying to “agglomerate” the entire north west population into having to commute to Manchester is to assign a lower value of the lives, health and happiness of people living elsewhere.

By Mike

The Northern city regions need a heavy rail rapid transit MTR/Metro, equivalent to overground in the suburbs and underground in the city centres. Liverpool has made a good start, but more needs to be done. Constructions needs to start now not after HS2, or HS3!

By Clive Broadhead

Waste of money improve the roads around the north first

By Will

Manchester needs one main stain and one station only. A super-station at east-west aligned Victoria. Piccadilly faces the wrong way and is also an inefficient, and expensive to, maintain ‘terminal’ station. Piccadilly needs decommissioning, except for the couple of through platforms bolted onto the side.

NPR can run up the Mersey corridor, also giving access to HS2. Uprating Piccadilly is the wrong, and very expensive, thing to do.

By John

I’m all for HS2 and what it will do to free up the local train in our conurbations….giving us quality and fast commuter rail networks with reliable timetables. And anyone who has ever worked for themselves will know, you will never win a new client with just Skype calls.

By Old Hall Street

I’m with EOD – great post.

By ChesneyT

Firstly, the country post-Covid-19 cannot afford HS2. Secondly, HS2 will not create any economic growth in the short to medium terms. Covid-19 will ensure that.

12 car 900 passenger trains on the WCML from Euston giving 10,800 passengers per hour (twice the 2014 figure) and reopening the Gt.Central trackbed south of Rugby giving two extra WCML tracks into London, has to be the next step, putting HS2 on hold.

The vital Phase 1 of HS2 take 52 minutes from London to Birmingham, according to DfT. The 100 miles between the two cities averages 116mph. To Leeds will average 113mph. This is on a railway designed to reach 250mph, the fastest in the world they told us. HS2 is not fast. As soon as it was not possible to have fast speeds on phase 1, the whole project should have been shelved. It is amazing it has got this far.

By John

For all this to work Manchester really needs new east-west through platforms via a tunnel. We can’t be constrained by platforms 13 and 14 forever.

By Superhans

In no scenario can HS2 get a Wigan or Preston or Liverpool etc etc commuter to London quicker than what they can already get there in 2020 via a standard Pendolino.

By North by North-West