Today, Monday 24th January, the Government is to lay the Bill before Parliament to extend HS2 from Crewe to Manchester and beyond.
This is a major phase of a £96bn commitment in the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) that will deliver faster and better journeys across the North and directly create 17,500 direct across northern England.
Once it is approved, the ‘High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill’ will allow HS2 to continue its journey from Crewe to Manchester, with journey times from London to Manchester cut by around 55 minutes and from Birmingham to Manchester by up to 45 minutes
The Bill will also allow for new high-speed stations and junctions to be built at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport, future-proofing services along the Western Leg, and facilitating Northern Powerhouse Rail to be built at a later date that could also include lines from Manchester to Liverpool and Leeds. Near Crewe, a new junction will be built to improve future services on the route and give Crewe the potential to be a hub station in mid-Cheshire able to accommodate more trains.
Part of the new line will also be used for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) services between Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool. Journey times from Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool will be cut to 35 minutes and from Leeds to Liverpool to around one hour 15 minutes. It will also create a new transport spine across the North West, and boost local economies through better connections, more capacity, improved reliability, and slashed journey times.
During construction of the Crewe-Manchester leg, Northern communities will benefit from the creation of 17,500 jobs. Thousands more jobs in the supply chain are expected to follow, including hundreds of highly-skilled permanent jobs, some of which will be in new rolling stock depots to be established.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “We are determined to improve transport connections and level up communities across the country and this Bill marks a landmark moment as we bring HS2 to Manchester and lay the foundations for Northern Powerhouse Rail.
“Our £96bn investment in rail in the North and Midlands and in connecting them to London will bring communities together, create thousands of jobs and make towns and cities in these key areas more attractive to business up to 10 years quicker than under any previous plans.”
“The IRP is the blueprint for the government’s commitment to building better transport links, generating prosperity and opportunity across the North and Midlands, bringing benefits up to 10 years sooner than previously planned, all while delivering on levelling up the country.”
HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said, “We have time and time again proven our commitment to improving transport connections throughout the North and levelling up communities in the process.
“Today marks the next chapter in achieving this; fulfilling the promises in our £96bn Integrated Rail Plan to shorten journey times, provide reliable and sustainable services, while supporting local services and delivering a modern, fully connected transport network fit for the future even sooner.”
Clare Hayward MBE, DL, Chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership said:
“Ensuring all of Cheshire and Warrington is properly connected to the rest of the North West and the country as a whole, and delivering an integrated sustainable transport solution, is vital in ensuring our continued economic growth and delivering on our net-zero ambitions.
“High-speed links to the airport and Manchester beyond are a key part of this, providing easy access to good employment opportunities as well as ensuring our vital industries, including net-zero, are easily accessible and properly joined up to important infrastructure.
“Crewe has a proud rail heritage and has long been seen as the gateway to the north and today’s announcement is an important step in it continuing to be so. I look forward to seeing the project progress and come to fruition, providing economic benefits to all our area and the people that live here.”
Chris Fletcher, Marketing & Campaigns Director, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said “Phase 2b of HS2 will be transformative for Greater Manchester and the wider North West. The benefits of delivering HS2 in full are many: it will promote economic growth, trigger business investment, unlock labour markets and enable regeneration of areas that desperately need ‘levelling up’.
“The additional rail capacity HS2 will deliver could allow more rail freight and contribute to the attainment of net-zero goals by reducing congestion on the roads. HS2, therefore, is not merely about reducing travel times. It is an essential part of ‘levelling up’ and Greater Manchester Chamber welcomes further progress on HS2.”
The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the UK’s rail supply community, has welcomed the HS2 Bill. Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the RIA, said “It is encouraging to see the bill for HS2’s Western Leg deposited in Parliament today. Rail businesses up and down the country stand ready to support this transformational project, supporting jobs and investment whilst delivering a new sustainable railway for the nation.
“Of course, this development should be accompanied by a commitment to deliver the HS2 Eastern Leg too – only by delivering the full scheme will all the benefits of HS2 be realised. So we continue to urge the Government to develop the Birmingham to Leeds stretch of HS2 at the same time as pushing on with the Western Leg to Manchester.”