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HS2 to halve journey times to Manchester and Leeds

The second phase of HS2, the detailed route for which has been unveiled this morning, will shorten the journey time from London to Manchester to 1 hour 8 minutes, and to Leeds in 1 hour 22 minutes.

Chief executive of Network Rail, Sir David Higgins has heralded it as “that rarest of things – a genuine game-changer for the railway”.

The Government has announced the details of the extension from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds as the top part of the Y-shaped network, scheduled to be completed in 2032.

The extension will have five stops: in Manchester, alongside Piccadilly station; a Manchester airport interchange by the M56 between Warbuton Green and Davenport Green; East Midlands at Toton, between Nottingham and Derby, one mile from the M1; Sheffield at Meadowhall shopping centre; and Leeds at New Lane in the Southbank area connected to the main station by walkway.

There will also be a dedicated link alongside the line at Crewe to link-up with standard trains. However, a proposed spur to Heathrow will be considered pending the results of Sir Howard Davies’ review of future airport capacity, due in 2015.

Journey times between Manchester and Birmingham will be reduced to 41 minutes, and between Leeds and Birmingham down to 57 minutes, almost half the current duration. The project, which will cost £32.7bn, is expected to create at least 100,000 jobs.

The route is set to be finalised by the end of the year.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “As with previous consultations, we will work closely with communities and interested parties to find the right balance between delivering the essential infrastructure that we need and respecting the rights and justifiable concerns of those who will be most affected by HS2's construction.

“While doing nothing would be the easy choice it would also be the irresponsible choice. This is an unparalleled opportunity to secure a step-change in Britain's competitiveness and this Government will do everything possible to ensure that the towns and cities in the Midlands and the North get the connections they need and deserve to thrive.”

Prime Minister David Cameron called HS2 an “engine for growth” and a catalyst to secure economic success across Britain.

“We are in a global race and this Government's decision to make High Speed Rail a reality is another example of the action we taking to equip Britain to compete and thrive in that race.”

Higgins said the network was valuable for Britain’s prosperity, creating jobs and connecting economic centres.“This is a rare chance to stop playing catch-up on capacity. If we get ahead of the game we can create huge opportunities for growth and connectivity...It can transform long distance travel, improve daily commutes on existing lines and create space on the network for passengers and freight to transfer from congested roads to an expanded railway.

“This is not a bolt-on piece of infrastructure. We are already planning how HS2 will integrate with the existing railway, supporting development of plans that will keep as many trains running during construction as possible and planning future train services that make best use of the capacity on both high speed and existing lines.”

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The modernisation and expansion of rail in the UK is many years overdue and while RMT welcomes any belated investment and development we must not forget that it is decades of political inertia that have left Britain's railways in the slow lane.”

Cllr Andrew Fender, chair of Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said the announcement was good for the economy of the wider North.

“Today’s announcement isn’t just about faster trains. High speed rail will create up to 30,000 station-supported jobs in Manchester and help to drive productivity in the region, bridging the economic gap between the North and the South.

“It will help businesses to connect with one another and improve access to major commercial opportunities, helping the North to prosper and reach its full economic potential – and crucially, it will also release much-needed capacity on the rest of the network for regional and local services and freight traffic.”


Geoff Inskip, the lead on rail issues for pteg said that HS2 would have a “truly transformational effect on our cities”.

He added: “We need to make sure that all of our city regions benefit from the improved connectivity high speed brings. Importantly, we’ve got the time to plan properly for high speed and to make sure our local transport networks are 'HS2 ready' and well-connected into the high speed services.”

Tony Berkeley, RFG chairman, welcomed the Government’s recognition of the additional capcity for freight and said: “Efficient rail logistics is vital for supplying consumers in the East Midlands and North of England, and supporting businesses in those areas.”

Jim Steer, director of Greengauge 21, said: “The new routes will be of tremendous benefit to Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands, and this is reflected in the enthusiastic support from city and business leaders. Many other cities in the Midlands and the North will also get an economic boost from the improved services over existing lines that become possible with HS2.”

And Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said: “This investment will help ease overcrowding on UK trains and help promote jobs and investment in Manchester, the East Midlands and Yorkshire.“The UK must seize the opportunity presented by HS2 to invest in and develop future engineering talent.”

For more recent RTM coverage of HS2, see:

HS2 – one year on from Government decision

HS2 could improve broadband access

HS2 standards to protect local communities

High Speed Rail from a Scottish perspective

(Images are extracts of route maps via the DfT. Full maps for the Manchester and Leeds routes are available on the DfT website.)

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