The government has set out its preferred route for phase two of High Speed 2 (HS2) from the West Midlands to Leeds and from Crewe to Manchester.
A proposed route for phase two was first published in 2013, but debates over the location of stations has meant that detailed plans have been delayed by nearly two years.
Phase two has since been split into two stages: phase 2a between the West Midlands and Crewe, the plans of which were set out last year; and phase 2b between Crewe and Manchester, as well as from the West Midlands to Leeds. Transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed the majority of the latter part of the phase today.
On the western leg of the route, HS2 will continue north from Crewe to Manchester Airport and then on to Manchester city centre, where a new HS2 station will be built next to Manchester Piccadilly. There will also be a connection to Liverpool and to the existing west coast main line allowing HS2 services to continue north, serving stations to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
On the eastern leg, HS2 will continue from the West Midlands to Toton in the East Midlands, where a new HS2 station will be built to serve Nottingham, Derby and the wider region, before continuing north to South Yorkshire. From there, the route will continue to Leeds where a new HS2 station will be built in Leeds city centre, adjacent to the existing station. Additionally, HS2 will also have a connection onto the East Coast Main Line, allowing the network to serve York, Newcastle and other places in the north east.
There are seven refinements that the Department for Transport (DfT) has opened for consultation. On the western leg, these include:
- Moving the previously proposed rolling stock depot at Golborne to a site north of Crewe
- Moving the approach to Manchester Piccadilly up to 370m eastwards with the northern tunnel portal in Ardwick, to avoid direct impacts on residential properties and a school at West Gorton
- Moving the route in the Middlewich to Northwich area in Cheshire up to 800m westwards.
On the eastern leg, the proposed refinements include:
- Moving the route to the east of Measham in Leicestershire, avoiding the most significant impacts on local manufacturing businesses and development sites
- Going around instead of tunnelling under East Midlands Airport
- Amending the alignment of the preferred route as it passes through Long Eaton to reduce severance in the local community and reduce impacts on the highway network and existing rail infrastructure
- Moving the alignment of the route from Derbyshire to West Yorkshire to reflect a change in the proposals for serving the Sheffield city region, as recommended by Sir David Higgins in his report Sheffield and South Yorkshire published in July 2016.
The DfT has issued safeguarding directions for the preferred phase 2b route, which protects the proposed route from conflicting development and also means that local residents who are most affected by the plans can now apply to the government to buy their home.
The government’s timetable envisages that the full HS2 scheme will be completed by 2033, with the main construction work on phase one, between London and Birmingham, due to start in 2017.
“HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century; one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business,” said Grayling.
“But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with phase one, we intend to introduce further compensation, which goes over and above what is required by law.”
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (Ceca) welcomed the publication of the government’s preferred route for the second phase of HS2, saying that the project would create new jobs and be a welcome boost to economic growth.
“Today’s news is an important milestone towards this nationally-significant project, which will be a key part of the UK’s transport network in the 21st century,” said Ceca’s head of external affairs Marie Claude Hemming.
“Our research demonstrates that for every £1 invested in infrastructure construction, there is a net benefit to the economy of £2.84. This is in line with the government’s forecasts that HS2 will support growth in the wider economy, and will be worth a further estimated 100,000 jobs.”
Lobby group Campaign for Better Transport provided a more lukewarm reaction to the announcement, stressing the importance of an integration plan for HS2.
“With future government finances somewhat uncertain at present, the emphasis must be on getting the most from our investment in HS2,” said head of campaigns for Campaign for Better Transport James MacColl.
“Its success depends not only on minimising the damage that the route would cause to communities and landscapes, but also on ensuring that it forms a viable and useful part of the transport network, attracting people and freight off the roads and out of planes.
“To do this, the government must set out an integration plan to show exactly how HS2 will enable extra freight and passenger trains on the existing network and how the new high speed services and stations will link with the rest of the transport network. Without more progress on this, the potential benefits of the scheme will be badly compromised.”
Today’s announcement comes as HS2 Ltd revealed contract awards worth £900M for enabling works on the first phase of the route.