“Strong progress” is starting to be made on Crewe’s transport hub, according to the Cheshire East Council boss.
Cheshire East Council director of infrastructure and highways Andrew Ross said “big milestones” were being made in its bid to drive growth in the area with the arrival of High Speed 2.
“The project is moving on and it hasn’t moved on in the past,” said Ross. “There’s a lot of work going on to bring all of the different aspects together now.”
Plans for the upgrade of the basic HS2 proposed station were released in its Crewe Hub Vision statement in March this year. This includes a building a transfer deck over the station to increase its development potential and modifications to the track layout to allow the high speed trains to use two existing lines which pass though the station.
“The challenge that we’ve got at the moment together with the government partners, is to align all of those requirements,” said Ross. “If you don’t get the HS2 bit right, you change the Network Rail infrastructure and the needs of the station and the likely levels of growth you can deliver.”
Ross said there were four key areas it was focusing on; the HS2 infrastructure, the Network Rail infrastructure, the quality of the station, and the local access, regeneration and development opportunities around the station.
“We’re all now working towards coming up with an integrated solution which will bring all of those aspects together as a whole solution,” he said. “What will not be acceptable to HS2 is if the timescales mean it arrives at a half-built station or the platforms have not yet been extended.
“So we’re working on programme refinement, going through a procurement review and a buildability review - how it might be built to meet that challenge.”
He said the delivery model had not yet been fixed, but it was likely that the government would lead on the procurement of any of the rail aspects and Cheshire East with the area surrounding the station.
Ross said although the government’s “hard” policies had not yet changed to include the new vision, a very collaborative relationship had been set up and it was “confident” its proposals would be incorporated into the government plans.
“But it’s a very constructive and collaborative process that we’re going through and there’s a strong partnership that’s been built,” he said. “Even though the policy hasn’t been changed yet, given the positive relationship we have, we’re very optimistic that they will be.”
Ross said a timetable for the works had not been set, saying the outcome depended on the interaction of all of the different aspects of the project.
“The time scale for the project has not yet been defined as there are so many ways in which this can be delivered,” he said. “How you build it and the routes and procurement and how you design each aspect will extend or shrink that timeline.”
Mott MacDonald and Grimshaw architects are currently working on developing the scheme around the station.
A funding package for each of the elements is part of the ongoing work programme
Planning applications could be submitted as early as the beginning of next year depending on how the next six months progresses he said.
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