Report: HS2 gives reasons for Manchester station stance
An underground station at Manchester Piccadilly would take up to 13 years longer to build and cost around £12bn, compared to £7bn for the existing above-ground proposal, according to a report.
Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham have repeatedly called on the government to rethink its approach to the city’s HS2 station but Whitehall has been unyielding.
Manchester politicians and business leaders claim that pushing ahead with a surface-level station would significantly diminish the regeneration potential HS2 brings.
By changing tack on the station plan, Manchester City Council claims the local economy could benefit from £333m more a year than if the overground station goes ahead.
In response to calls for a rethink, HS2 Ltd has this week published a report detailing why Manchester’s preferred option will not work.
Three underground models assessed by HS2 were found to be on average £5bn more expensive to deliver than the above-ground option.
The three options would cost £12.1bn, £12.3bn and £11.4bn, according to the report. The main additional cost is contingency.
The contingency rate attached to the existing proposal is 45.2%. The underground options are appraised at 66% “to reflect the conceptual nature of the designs and the lack of survey and design details”, according to the report.
In response to the findings, Cllr Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, said the authority “remains convinced that an optimised design could deliver an underground station for considerably less”.
If an underground station was to be delivered, it might not be ready until 2049, 13 years later than the estimated delivery date for the current plan, according to the report.
Estimated durations for each of the three underground options vary between seven and 13 years.
Up to 45,000 additional HGV journeys could be required to deliver an underground station, the report states, while two of the three underground options would pose “significant risk both in terms of safety and of damage to existing structures” due to the amount of mining required.
Those two options present construction challenges that would be “unprecedented in scale and nature in the UK”, according to the report.
The report concludes that the surface station remains HS2’s preferred option and that the underground comparators were all inferior on issues including construction feasibility, health and safety, cost, and schedule/delivery-into-service when compared to the existing proposal.
Craig said: “We are still looking at the detail of this report but it’s fair to say that while HS2 Ltd has shared its estimated cost for an underground station, they have not shared the basis on which this figure was arrived at.
“Even allowing for this, our case remains that it’s essential to look at the station’s value for money over its lifetime. The fact that it will deliver £333m a year more for our economy shows how much more beneficial an underground station would be for the city and the region’s economy. We would encourage HS2 Ltd and the government to take a longer term, more strategic view.”