HS2 Ltd has launched a consultation on changes to Phase 2b, to create links between the western leg of the high speed rail line in the North West and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).
The ‘design refinements’ include provisions for the Crewe North Hub, as well as changes to HS2 plans at Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
Transport for the North (TfN) welcomed new plans but warned that the benefits must be 'shared equally across the North', touching on concerns that plans for the Eastern Leg of HS2 were being sidelined.
HS2 Ltd said the changes ‘fully support the vision for HS2 and NPR becoming the new backbone of Britain’s national rail network’.
Its head of consultation and engagement, Leonie Dubois, 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.’
A map of the full HS2 project, including the Phase 2b Eastern leg to Leedsand east of Leeds
TfN, the country’s only statutory sub-national transport body, said it contributed to the proposals with detailed development work, but added that plans to integrate the network on the east of the Pennines ‘also need to progress at speed to deliver the best outcomes for the North’s towns and cities’.
It pointed out that the consultation only considers linkages between the two projects in the North West, even though under current proposals the schemes would feature junctions and touchpoints across the North, including to the east of Leeds to speed up journeys to Hull and the North East.
Under TfN’s current plans, HS2 and NPR would share 80km of rail infrastructure.
The plans are subject to the outcome of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan, which is due to report at the end of this year and is expected to make further recommendations about major projects in the North and Midlands. These include HS2 Phase 2b routes through the East Midlands and Yorkshire, NPR, and plans for key stations like Manchester Piccadilly.
Tim Wood, TfN's Northern Powerhouse Rail director, said: ‘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.’
Changes to Manchester Airport High Speed Station 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.