The High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) connection between Birmingham and Crewe is due to open in 2027, six years ahead of schedule, the Government announced today after finalising the section's route.
The news comes after HS2’s funding envelope was increased from £50bn to £55.7bn in 2015 prices under last week’s Spending Review.
Chairman of HS2 Ltd Sir David Higgins also published a report today recommending a ‘Yorkshire Hub’ - a new hub station in Leeds, to connect HS2 to existing rail services in a single station.
Meaning business: The CBI's John Cridland
His report recommends an integrated design for the HS2 station in Leeds, while maintaining a southerly route into the city. A final decision on the plans will be taken as part of the autumn 2016 Phase 2 route decision – where HS2 branches East and West to Leeds and Manchester as it runs north from Birmingham.
Cheshire East Council leader Cllr Michael Jones welcomed the decision on the route from Birmingham to Crewe and pushed for the area to have its own hub station.
In October 2014, Sir David Higgins announced Crewe as the preferred location for a ‘Superhub’ north of Birmingham.
The Government has asked Network Rail and HS2 Limited to continue feasibility work on the Crewe hub with a view to reaching a single proposal by the time further decisions are taken on HS2 Phase Two in autumn 2016.
On the back of today’s announcement, Cllr Jones also revealed he is seeking support from his cabinet for £500,000 to establish a new regeneration company to deliver an economic growth strategy for the south Cheshire sub-region.
Ministers also announced today that Sir David will be joined at the top table of transport leaders in the North by the director general of the CBI, John Cridland who will be the first chair of Transport for the North (TfN) – the local government-led a body created to transform transport connectivity across the region.
Chancellor George Osborne said: ‘Bringing forward this part of the HS2 route by six years is a massive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse where high speed rail will play a big role in connecting up the entire region with the rest of the country.
‘It’s fantastic to announce someone of the calibre of John Cridland to take on the important role of chairing Transport for the North. He will bring huge knowledge and experience to this position and I want to say thank you to Sir Richard Leese for the great job he has done in an interim capacity. I look forward to continuing to work together to deliver our shared aim of a world-class transport system for the north.’
Under today’s plans, once the West Midlands’ phase 2a has opened in 2027, the reduced journey times delivered by HS2 phases 1 and 2a will be:
· Crewe to London will be cut by 45 minutes
· Manchester to London will be cut by 40 minutes
· Glasgow to London will save 48 minutes
The Government aims to deliver HS2 from London to Birmingham by 2026, and to Leeds and Manchester by 2033.
The HS2 Bill is progressing through parliament.