The preferred route for the second phase of the high-speed rail line HS2, including a leg from Crewe to Manchester, has been confirmed by the government this morning. HS2 is expected to create about 25,000 jobs during construction as well as 2,000 apprenticeships. It will also support growth in the wider economy, worth an additional 100,000 jobs.
The direct benefits of HS2 is designed to reach far beyond the towns and regions directly served by the newly built railway lines. As the full network is completed, new HS2 trains will continue up the East and West Coast Main Lines, serving areas including Stafford, Liverpool, Preston, Warrington, Wigan, Carlisle, Glasgow, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
On the western leg, HS2 will continue north from Crewe to Manchester Airport and then continue 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.
As one of seven refinements on which Department for Transport is consulting, it is proposed to move the approach to Manchester Piccadilly up to 370 metres eastwards with the northern tunnel portal in Ardwick, to avoid direct impacts on residential properties and a school at West Gorton. A consultation is also exploring moving the route in the Middlewich – Northwich area in Cheshire up to 800 metres westwards.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “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.
“The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory.
“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.
Grayling has also announced that HS2 Ltd has awarded a £900m contract to Area South – CS JV (Costain Group Plc, Skanska Construction UK), Area Central – Fusion JV (Morgan Sindall plc, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman (UK)) and Area North – LM JV (Laing O’Rourke Construction, J Murphy & Sons) today so that construction on the first phase of HS2 between the West Midlands and London can get underway next year as planned.
The government originally set out plans for HS2 phase two in 2013. Since then it was decided to develop phase two in two stages: phase 2a – from the West Midlands to Crewe that was announced last year; and phase 2b – from Crewe to Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds, South Yorkshire and the East Midlands.
Phase 2a will open in 2027 and phase 2b in 2033.