Published: Thursday, 3rd December 2015
The high speed rail link connecting Crewe to Birmingham will open six years ahead of schedule in 2027, Chancellor George Osborne and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced this week.
The Government claimed this move, affecting the section of the HS2 route from Fradley in the West Midlands to Crewe, would deliver a major boost to the Midlands, Northern Powerhouse and Scotland. This section is now designated officially as Phase 2a.
In a parliamentary statement McLoughlin said: “We intend to accelerate Phase 2a so that it opens six years earlier than planned, in 2027. This will bring more capacity and faster HS2 services to the north-west of England, including Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland much sooner than originally planned. Our plans will help to support growth and deliver jobs more quickly.”
Powers to build this section of the route will be sought through a separate hybrid bill which ministers intend to introduce to Parliament in 2017. HS2 Ltd has now procured Professional Services Consultants (PSCs) to support the hybrid bill development.
The Transport Secretary has issued safeguarding directions for that part of the route to ensure that new developments in this corridor do not affect the ability to build or operate Phase 2a or lead to excessive additional costs. Safeguarding has also triggered the statutory blight regime.
In a related but separate development plans to integrate Leeds’ proposed HS2 station with the city’s existing railway station have been announced.
The Government has also published a progress report on the Northern Transport Strategy, which includes a progress update across the full range of the strategy, including international connectivity, freight, smart and integrated ticketing, strategic roads and Northern Powerhouse rail.
The Chancellor also confirmed that former Director General of the CBI, John Cridland is to be the first Chair of Transport for the North (TfN), a new body created to help transform transport connectivity across the ’Northern Powerhouse’ area.