[T]ransport Secretary Chris Grayling today (17 July 2017) confirmed Britain’s high speed rail lines to the north-west, East Midlands and Yorkshire.
The decision will mean new connections between Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands – with all of them being linked to London by the line.
It is set to bring a massive economic boost for the north and the Midlands by increasing productivity and creating new business opportunities.
And the new line will free up thousands of extra seats and additional services on local lines. New research shows the impact of HS2 could more than double rush hour seats from Manchester Piccadilly towards Stoke and Crewe; and from Leeds towards Wakefield. It could also almost double peak seats from London to Peterborough and east coast destinations further north.
Today’s announcement will mean journeys from Birmingham to Manchester in 40 minutes – a trip that takes more than 80 minutes on services currently.
By providing new routes for intercity services, HS2 will free-up space on our existing railways for new commuter, regional and freight services, taking lorries off our roads.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Britain’s new railway line will bring huge economic benefits across the country and help ensure this government delivers on its promise to spread wealth beyond London and the south-east.
“But as well as creating skilled jobs, apprenticeships and business opportunities, it will also mean real day-to-day improvements for people across the country.
“By building a whole new railway line for high-speed intercity connections, we will free up local services, meaning more comfort, more seats and more trains for passengers across the north and the Midlands.
“We will now press ahead with building the line, while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.”
David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd said: “Today we have taken a huge step forward in connecting 8 of our largest cities, freeing up space on our railways and building a catalyst for growth across the country. Once completed 30 million people will be served by HS2 across over 25 stations, helping to change the economic geography of the country, and bring prosperity to the midlands, the north, and beyond.”
The Transport Secretary also announced the decision to award the first stage of £6.6 billion worth of new contracts today – supporting 16,000 jobs across the country.
An upcoming bill for the section from the West Midlands to Crewe will effectively act as a planning application, with the line expected to open in 2027 if approved by Parliament.
Today’s announcements confirmed the new route for the eastern section and plans to serve the station in Sheffield city centre.
The government has also confirmed it will ensure homeowners on the Shimmer estate in Mexborough, South Yorkshire, can secure a comparable local home.
The government has also asked HS2 Ltd to take forward the provision of a northern junction back on to HS2, which would support delivery of a city-centre to city-centre connection between Leeds-Sheffield in less than 30 minutes as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
New plans for the route to Crewe include:
- the possibility of building a new hub station in Crewe to improve connections across the north-west
- potentially introducing HS2 services to Stoke
The government remains on track to open the link from London to Birmingham in 2026, the route to Crewe in 2027 and the routes to the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Manchester in 2033. Preparatory work on Phase One has already commenced, with major construction starting in 2018 to 2019.