Underground Manchester Piccadilly HS2 station plans are ‘oven-ready’

Architecture firm Weston Williamson + Partners has said its designs for a possible underground HS2 hub, first developed two years ago, are ready if the government opts to rethink its HS2 bill.

Both Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham have shared their objections to the HS2 bill that is to be laid before Parliament today. Their chief concern is the bill’s proposal for an overground HS2 station for Piccadilly.

Craig stated that while the overground plan would be cheaper to build in the short term, “in the long term it will cost the region’s economy much more in missed opportunities”. The city council also said that constructing concrete viaducts to support the station and line would result in the loss of 123 acres of land for proposed development.

Burnham echoed Craig’s concerns.

“Building HS2 on the surface at Manchester Piccadilly means the new station will be at full capacity from day one,” Burnham said. “It means the new train services from Liverpool and Leeds having to reverse out. And it also means forever losing prime development land and the economic opportunity that goes with it.”

Burnham has insisted that an underground station is the way to go.

“We believe there is a better plan which would do much more to level up the North of England with the South,” he said. “An underground station would be an investment in building a bigger Northern economy and would pay for itself over time. It could also help deliver an entirely new line between Manchester and Leeds, which is what we were promised.

“We call on the government to listen to the North and work with us to get the right solution. This decision will have a huge bearing on the future of the North for the rest of this century and the next and it is vital that it is not sold short.”

HS2 Alternative Piccadilly 3

The proposed underground HS2 station at Manchester Piccadilly. Credit: Weston Williamson + Partners

Weston Williamson + Partners is no stranger to station design, having completed two stations for the Elizabeth Line in London and oversaw the redevelopment of London’s Waterloo station.

The architectural practice’s proposals call for the hub to sit underneath a pedestrianised forecourt known as Station Square. The station would also be a through station rather than HS2 terminus, which would allow for high-speed train services between Liverpool and Leeds via Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.

A high-speed rail tunnel would need to be built beneath central Manchester to make the plans work. The tunnel would curve to the north-east to follow the M62 corridor.

Weston Williamson + Partners worked alongside Expedition Engineering to craft its own underground station plans in 2020. In a press release, the firm said that the plans were “oven-ready” and that the council was right to ask the government to reconsider its plans.

“HS2 will be transformational for Manchester, and yet the current plans for HS2 would turn Piccadilly into a dead-end, destroy much of the city and put a stop to any hopes for onward high-speed connections to Leeds,” said Weston Williamson + Partners founder Rob Naybour.

“We want Manchester’s HS2 transformation to be a positive one: our proposals, therefore, offer an integrated hub that would better serve residents, businesses and visitors to Manchester, while also creating new opportunities for urban regeneration in the city as well as future high-speed connections to other parts of the country,” he continued.

“Manchester City Council are absolutely right to call for a re-think for Piccadilly. Our message is clear: that re-think need not take long as our proposals demonstrate how an underground hub is not only deliverable but hugely beneficial.”

Read more about Weston Williamson + Partners proposals.

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It has to be the underground option surely!! If it’s the overground option they may as well just not bother, it wouldn’t be worth the disruption. Surely we are past carving cities up with overground viaducts!

The underground option benefits everybody in the North, not just Manchester.

By .

That cost of this station is? as a tax payer i don’t want this

By Anonymous

As a tax payer I want this now.

By Anonymous

Another tax payer here who wants this!

By Bradford

The underground station optioni is the only one that will truly benefit the north as a whole. I suspect we will get the lower cost option and that if this were the SouthEast it wouldn’t even be a conversation.

By Anonymous

Leeds has already been shafted, Liverpool is barely even considered and now what should be a prime interchange across the north will be watered down to a shadow of what it could be.

By Powerhouse

Does the use of the term ‘oven-ready’ now mean that someone is pretending its ready?

By Huey

The Underground all the way to Oldham, where it can meet the Warrington/Marsden line.We can dream.

By Elephant

Is the money “oven ready?” or just like Johnson’s Brexit spiel nowhere ready? It could be a case of defrosting it first to see that it appears smaller than what it was originally anticipated.
If Manchester wants it, let Manchester pay for it(they could sell a few assets to pay for it Manchester Airport etc.)

By Equality allround

I agree with previous comment – if they insist on doing an over-ground option then I would prefer that they scrap the whole thing. It would cause carnage to large parts of the city, something the city would have to live with for the next 100 years. Plus there would be little to no benefit for the rest of the north…..its just not worth it.

As I understand it (and I’m no expert) going for the underground option would allow far more flexibility, capacity, and alleviate some of the rail congestion in Manchester, therefore benefiting the whole of north with regards to a better rail experience . Yes Manchester would also benefit as this would free up valuable land for future development, but the benefits would go far beyond Manchester.

We were once a country that designed and built the best engineering infrastructure on the planet – now, unless its London everything is a compromise, done on the cheap. The council is absolutely right to challenge this…we pay our taxes just like those in the south. If they can get best in class, we in the north should too.

By Manc Man

As a taxpayer, please build this ASAP.

By Anonymous

Worth every penny! Especially considering not only the improved inter city connections, but the rail capacity it frees up on the main line for suburban commuter trains.

By MC

As another tax payer, I also want this – and the underground version

By Jo

Everybody pays taxes, don’t you know? Taxes turn anarchy into civilized society.

By James Yates

Tax payers have already paid for stations at London Euston, Old Oak Common and Birmingham. Why would you not want to complete the job and do it in such a way as to maximise benefits across the north? The underground station must happen.

By Tax payer

As a tax payer, I want this over the already-outdated overground plan.
It has to be the underground plan! Prove to us that you have anything but contempt for the north. Prove to us that your “levelling up agenda” wasn’t a total and complete lie.

By CFN

England is a poor country. London has no money for tunnels — if they are northward of the Danelaw … where the ‘others’ live.

By James Yates

If the valuable land for development is freed up by going underground, then perhaps the sale and proceeds of these development plots could go towards the cost of the underground construction, surely that is the right and proper thing to do? As a taxpayer I would support this action in order to limit the risk factor.

By Having your cake and eating it.

Whats good for Manchester is also good for Liverpool

By Anonymous

@Elephant The HS2 Picc station is on the alledged Warrington – Marsden line. Just that the driver has to walk a km down the platform to continue driving it towards Leeds/Liverpool.

By Bob

The underground solution does look better, and given its going to be around for 100 years , we should arguing for it. That said, it’s odd that people think railway viaducts are terrible, Manchester is full of them.

By Rich X

I’m no fan of HS2 but if it must be done, it must be done properly with an underground solution. Although I think overhead viaducts could be eye-catching and an asset to the city, the years of disruption would not be worth it. Let’s face it the overground option will be the one approved as it’s the cheapest and will be done on the cheap. It will be ugly forever or until it gets closed down in less than 20 years due to lack funds for proper maintenance. Then it will be MCCs responsibility to pay for the demolition.

By Bernard Fender

We need the solution that gives this form of transport the greatest optionality around capacity growth – ie the underground option. This Government wants to penny pinch and give the north a third class solution that will be, as Andy has observed, at capacity on day one. Talk about stupidity. London would never put up with this.

By Anonymous

I fully support the underground option. What would be the point in spending billions on an infrastructure project and then scrimping on an obvious future proofing strategy such as through platforms?

By Frank

I was a big Boris supporter. However, if this underground option does not go ahead. He and the conservatives, can kiss goodbye to my vote in the local elections, and at the next general election.

By Philip Sharp

Do it right or dont do it at all.

By anon

An underground station is the way forward and will equip Manchester to serve the next generation with clean state of the art transport .

By Brenda French

Given that Old Oak Common HS2 station is already going to be an underground 6 platform box station then why on earth wouldn’t exactly the same thing be done in Manchester? The real estate is much more valuable in central Manchester than in an peripheral London site. Again building a redundant non expandable overground station makes no sense, especially when the Treasury sponsored IRP document quotes that other stations in Europe have trains reversing back out but omits to mention all of their examples of such main European stations are now being or scheduled to be rebuilt as underground through stations at massive expense! Ludicrous incompetence from the DfT and Treasury (as per usual).
Get the 6 platform underground station built and stop mucking around with descoped poor solutions that will have to be rectified at huge expense the minute they’ve built it.

By Dr B

The MP for Pendle says that an Underground is a non-starter. Has Lucy Powell got an opinion? We haven’t heard anything from her. She is soon to be the MP for the epicentre of the second fastest growing city in Europe.

By Elephant

As a taxpayer, I also want this.

By Tax Payer

As a taxpayer I say Manchester should pay.

By Stop funding white elephants

I cannot imagine any other country in Northern or Western Europe not doing this, especially with a city as large (we are talking of a city larger than Stockholm or Lyon, and perhaps as big as Milan here). Regardless of who is in power in those cities/countries, these projects are done because they’re necessary. Train lines, like highways can cause huge severance and create large dead space around them. That’s not what you want for the city centre of Britain’s premier up and coming city. Even if the cost seems high today, in 20, 50, or 100 years nobody will wish we’d gone against what every other country in Europe does, and picked the cheap option

By Todd Lithgow

What is the problem with an overground station? Is cheaper and safer for passengers, building underground is expensive and often massively over budget. (just look at crossrail 2 in london) someone has to pay for it though tax or with the ticket, i want a cheap and faster train that could compete with electric cars in terms of cost and speed,

Why would you want to save the land to build apartments for foreign investors only, all new apartments being built in Manchester are offered to foreign investors first. Most apartments are over 300k with no affordable housing being built. Why should I care if foreign investor can’t buy a new apartment in town because the land is taken up by the new station?

By lewis

We need this, its been overdue for over a century. On numerous occasions since the 1800’s, London has got in the way of an underground in Manchester.

Its all in a book by Keith Warrender called “Underground Manchester: Secrets of the City Revealed”

By MrP

Why should other city taxpayers foot the bill for Manchester ? I oppose completely

By Anonymous

Manchester wants the champagne lifestyle on a Rolla Cola budget

By Anonymous

The station will be coming to Manchester , it will be the overground option, taxpayers will help fund it and everyone will forget what all the fuss was about in years to come.

By Anonymous

Has a value management study been carried out on the options for the new HS2 station proposed for Manchester Piccadilly?
If so where is it held?

By Malcolm Risely

I was gutted when I learned of the short-termism of killing this last year. Can’t believe I missed that it might be back from the dead! Keeping all fingers and toes crossed the north gets what it deserves!
Oh, and we get to replace the “Lazy S” (Gateway House) too!

By Tom

Can’t see the comment I made.No point in wasted energy.Build it!.And as someone has commented ~Tax payers money has paid for the rest of the line and stations without issue,why are people saying that M’cr in some way pay for it?.We live in the same country supposedly. Also keep tunneling North East and punch above ground Rochdale/Oldham…continue to Bradford~Leeds~York.Its 2022 the Mcr Station should be underground, I actually have confidence it will go that way….there’s too much logic to build otherwise..

By Robert Fuller

Can’t see the comment I made.No point in wasted energy.Build it!.And as someone has commented ~Tax payers money has paid for the rest of the line and stations without issue,why are people saying that M’cr in some way pay for it?.We live in the same country supposedly. Also keep tunneling North East and punch above ground Rochdale/Oldham…continue to Bradford~Leeds~York.Its 2022 the Mcr Station should be underground, I actually have confidence it will go that way….there’s too much logic to build otherwise..

By Robert Fuller

The most import thing is that the HS2 station in Manchester is a through station, rather than a terminus.
The ability to continue on from Manchester using a through station is far more useful to the whole region than everything terminating there.
If it is impracticable to make Manchester Piccadilly into a through station on the surface then the underground option, even though it’s more expensive, should be chosen.
Mistakes made today will cost far more to correct in the future.

By Peter

The most import thing is that the HS2 station in Manchester is a through station, rather than a terminus.
The ability to continue on from Manchester using a through station is far more useful to the whole region than everything terminating there.
If it is impracticable to make Manchester Piccadilly into a through station on the surface then the underground option, even though it’s more expensive, should be chosen.
Mistakes made today will cost far more to correct in the future.

By Peter

Oh HS2 is coming is coming to Manchester alright regardless of whether we want it or need it. The Mayor will grandstand for a while because that’s what he’s paid to do and in a way he’s right , this would be the best solution, but in the end it will for cost reasons likely go ahead as is and we’ll all move on to other things.

By Anonymous

Oh HS2 is coming is coming to Manchester alright regardless of whether we want it or need it. The Mayor will grandstand for a while because that’s what he’s paid to do and in a way he’s right , this would be the best solution, but in the end it will for cost reasons likely go ahead as is and we’ll all move on to other things.

By Anonymous

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