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.