Smart Transport

Next stage of HS2 rail “wrong plan", says Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, has said the Government's next steps for its HS2 rail strategy is the "wrong plan, both for Greater Manchester and for the North as a whole."

The next phase of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) plan includes extending the leg of HS2 from Crewe into Manchester Picccadilly Train Station and to Manchester Airport.

However, Burnham said: “We remain committed to working with the Government to bring HS2 to our city-region. But we remain of the view that this is the wrong plan, both for Greater Manchester and for the North as a whole.

“Building HS2 on the surface at Manchester Piccadilly means the new station will be at full capacity from day one.

“It means the new train services from Liverpool and Leeds have to reverse out. And it also means forever losing prime development land and the economic opportunity that goes with it.”

The Government said if its Bill for the next phase of HS2 is approved, it will cut travel time from London to Mancehster by around 55 minutes and from Birmingham to Mancehster by up to 45 minutes.

The DfT also said it would bring 17,500 jobs to Northern communities to support the construction of the Crewe to Manchester leg. Thousands of further supply chain jobs are expected to follow.

Part of the new high speed line will also be used for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) services between Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, helping cut the Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool journey to 35 minutes and Leeds to Liverpool to around an hour and a quarter.

The DfT said the construction of HS2 to Manchester will allow capacity to double, or more, on the routes between Manchester and London to Birmingham.

Burnham questioned why Greater Manchester is the only part of the country being asked to make a “substantial financial contribution” to the cost of HS2.

Burnham said: “We believe there is a better plan which would do much more to level up the North of England with the South.

“An underground station would be an investment in building a bigger Northern economy and would pay for itself over time. It could also help deliver an entirely new line between Manchester and Leeds, which is what we were promised.

“We call on the Government to listen to the North and work with us to get right solution.

“This decision will have a huge bearing on the future of the North for the rest of this century and the next and it is vital that it is not sold short.

“We will be pressing the case for major changes to the Bill and seeking the support of MPs on all sides.”

HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said the Government has proven "time and time again" its commitment to improving transport connections throughout the North.

Stephenson said: "This Bill marks the next chapter in achieving this; fulfilling the promises in our £96 billion 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. 

"The Bill will also allow for a new high speed stations and junctions to be built at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport futureproofing services along the Western Leg and facilitating Northern Powerhouse Rail to be built at a later date – which could include lines from Manchester to Liverpool and Leeds. 

"In addition to this, a new junction near Crewe will be developed not only improving future services on the route but giving Crewe the potential to be a Hub station in mid-Cheshire able to accommodate more trains."

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