Work to develop legislation for the Crewe to Manchester route of HS2 has been brought forward, the minister responsible for high-speed rail, Andrew Stephenson, has confirmed.
HS2 Ltd, the company set up to deliver the line, has brought forward work in response to findings in the Oakervee Review to improve return on investment. Four changes to the link’s design have also been recommended as part of an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands, which will see the infrastracture put in place to link HS2 with the proposed East-West Northern Powerhouse Rail route.
Proposed changes include an expansion of facilities at Crewe, to allow the station to be a hub for connections linking HS2 with the West Coast Mainline to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly’s stations would also see expansion under the proposals with the prospect of Northern Powerhouse Rail also serving high-speed platforms at these stations.
Transport for the North (TfN) have welcomed the proposals, but raised concerns that no announcements have been made regarding the eastern leg of the route, serving Derby/Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds.
Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at TfN commented:
“It is good to see proposals for HS2 moving forwards, as the North has waited too long for the new investment it needs in high speed rail lines found elsewhere in Europe. 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.
“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.”
Work on the London to Birmingham stretch of HS2 is now underway, with the Birmingham to Crewe section of the line currently going through parliament, after being brought forward earlier this year.