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HS2’s journey north accelerates as public consultation opens

Plans to extend Britain’s new railway, High Speed Two, moved a step closer today with the opening of a new public consultation which invites people’s views on the latest proposals for the railway.

Communities are encouraged to have their say on a series of proposed design refinements, which show how the route from Crewe to Manchester (known as the Phase 2b Western leg) is progressing to fully integrate with plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and the wider transport network.

The consultation focuses on four proposed modifications to the current design of the Phase 2b Western leg. It outlines exciting changes to the already proposed Rolling Stock Depot at Crewe, a new Crewe Northern Connection (which would also support the vision for a Crewe Hub), alongside expansion plans to both Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly High Speed Stations. These changes, which also include a newly proposed facility for stabling rolling stock at Annandale in Scotland, fully support the vision for HS2 and NPR becoming the new backbone of Britain’s national rail network.

Collectively, HS2 and NPR will increase capacity on the rail network and improve connections between the UK’s biggest cities and regions, while generating thousands of jobs and boosting economic growth across the Midlands and the North.

Communities in Cheshire are invited to give their views on the design refinements, which could enable additional HS2 services to call at Crewe Station and support the creation of local jobs at the expanded Rolling Stock Depot.

The two changes to the design of the railway north of Crewe propose to:

  • Include the Crewe Northern Connection in the design for HS2 to enable the benefits of NPR and the Crewe Hub to be realised in future with more and quicker services to the north; and
  • Modify the design of the Crewe North Rolling Stock Depot to provide the required stabling and maintenance facilities for HS2 rolling stock and support the efficient operation of the HS2 network.

For Manchester Airport High Speed Station, the proposals include:

  • Increasing the number of platforms (from two to four) to accommodate service growth and plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail;
  • An update to the station’s design to accommodate a future Metrolink stop;
  • Increasing the number of car parking spaces and adding further car parking on the western side of the station; and
  • Changes to the surrounding road network to provide a second access to the station.

Further design changes proposed for Manchester Piccadilly Station include:

  • Providing two additional platforms (from four to six) to allow future use of HS2 infrastructure as part of NPR;
  • Relocating the Piccadilly Metrolink station beneath the HS2/NPR station and making provision for a second Metrolink stop in the event of future expansion of Metrolink to the east of the city;
  • Making passive provision for the junction required for a future connection to Leeds as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail;
  • Changing the horizontal alignment of the approach to the station to reduce impacts on the existing Ardwick train care facility; and
  • Improving the road network around the station to avoid disruption to road users and re-provide highways around HS2 works.

The proposals demonstrate cost efficiencies by integrating the infrastructure required to deliver NPR into the design of HS2’s Western Leg hybrid Bill. This forward-thinking approach aligns to the Government’s vision to significantly improve capacity, connectivity and reliability of the rail network across the North as quickly as possible.

HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson MP said:

“Engaging with communities is central to delivering HS2 and Northern Powerhouse and we’re keen to hear from residents and business across Cheshire about the proposed design changes to the rolling stock depot at Crewe and the new Crewe Northern Connection.”

“Responses to this consultation will be invaluable as we accelerate preparations for the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b, linking Crewe and Manchester, as part of our overall commitment to improving connectivity to the North as quickly as we can.”

The public consultation, which closes on the 11th December 2020, is supported by a series of live webinar events, which allow communities to find out more about the proposals and ask questions. The webinars are supported by HS2’s freephone Helpdesk, which is available 24/7.  Public facing events are not being held in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of local communities.

Leonie Dubois, HS2’s Head of Consultation and Engagement said:

“Our latest consultation demonstrates that we’re a step closer to extending Britain’s new railway from Crewe to Manchester, improving connectivity to the North and delivering on the vision for a cleaner, greener transport network.

“Local communities have an important role to play in informing the final design of the railway and I encourage them to take the time to respond to these proposals”.

Consultation documents, which provide a detailed account of the proposed changes, are available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/hs2-phase-2b-western-leg-design-refinement-consultation. An update to Safeguarding directions for the Phase 2b Western leg and a report outlining the outcomes of last year’s Design Refinement Consultation are also available.

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