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20.10.14

Stoke council will consider legal action if Crewe gets HS2 station

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has held open the option of legal action if HS2 decides to continue with its current plans to build a station in Crewe rather than Stoke.

Speaking to the Independent, Cllr Mohammed Pervez, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, warned that "one option is a judicial review" if Crewe were to be selected. He believes that the two business cases have not been assessed on "a level playing field", and points out that Crewe appears to have received resources from HS2 Ltd.

Sir David Higgins, the chairman of HS2 Ltd, is due to release a report on Monday 27 October outlining his final plans for the second phase of the project. He is expected to confirm his preference for a hub station at Crewe, an old railway town, on the western arm of the Y-shaped second phase. Ministers would then need to concur, but this would probably be a formality.

RTM reported last week that Stoke presented its business case to the government, urging them to alter the route. Community and business leaders in the city believe that the alternative route would be greener, £2bn cheaper, and deliver £200m extra growth in the regional economy.

"It's been unfair because HS2 Ltd and the government have poured resources into Crewe," said Cllr Pervez to the Independent. He added that if Crewe were selected it would have to be proved that Stoke was not "negatively impacted" and there would have to be "a series of measures to counter any negative impact to Stoke's economy".

"If negotiations fail and our detailed analysis shows that a decision has been reached on the basis of a flawed process … then Stoke-on-Trent naturally reserves the right to challenge the decision-making process in all appropriate forums. This could include parliamentary interventions and, ultimately, judicial review," he added.

In March, the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said he wanted HS2 Ltd and Network Rail to look into accelerating construction of a hub station in Crewe.

An HS2 spokesman said: "Sir David will set out his thinking on the north-west hub later this month. He is aware of the strong arguments being put forward by both Stoke and Crewe."

HS2 Ltd has also announced it is looking for a new Residents Commissioner to help those who may be eligible for government compensation and cash payment schemes because they live close to the new north-south rail line.

Sir David said: "Britain needs a new railway line to ease crowding on the current network and to improve connections between our biggest cities. But it is essential that people living close to the planned route understand what payments may be available to them. The Residents’ Charter and Commissioner is our commitment to making that happen. The Commissioner is independent and will make their views, findings and recommendations publically available every three months."

This recruitment comes as HS2 Ltd welcomes three new non-executive directors to its board. Christine Emmett, Neil Masom and Baroness Jo Valentine have been appointed by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Regarding the appointments, Sir David added: “Delivering HS2 will be as complex as it will be significant for the country.  We therefore need Board Members who understand the technical, financial and community issues that will confront us. Jo, Christine and Neil, working with the existing members of the board, will bring the cumulative experience we need for the massive task we face.  I am delighted to welcome them to the board.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Neil Palmer   21/10/2014 at 03:39

Regardless of the merits there may be of running HS2 via Stoke-on-Trent (which admittedly is a better/quicker route to Manchester and could serve Macclesfield &/or Stockport) it does appear to make it more difficult to server Manchester Airport. It seems difficult to beat Crewe's location on the rail network for ongoing connectivity, whether through changing trains or routing compatible stock onto the current network, to reach destinations like Runcorn/Liverpool (maybe Liverpool Airport), or Chester/Bangor/Holyhead, and of course north to Preston & Scotland.

Graham Nalty   21/10/2014 at 12:42

If you look at a map, Stoke is a far better location as it sits at the crossroads between Birmingham to Manchester and Derby to Liverpool (HS4?), all large cities that need to be better connected to improve the UK economy and reduce the north-south divide. And Stoke is a sufficiently large city that it would automatically be considered as part of a high speed rail network in other countries. Stoke will attract commercial development. A green field outside Crewe will not. Can someone explain to me why HS2 Ltd. want to put about half their stations in locations that no one wants to go to? I do not know of any other country where an out of town parkway station would be built instead of bringing high speed trains into the same city centre station that serves the rest of the local rail network. HS2 does not serve Manchester airport, but a parkway location that will require additional transport to the air terminal, thereby failing to follow the best European practice of siting the airport station in the airport terminal as at Schiplol, Paris CDG, Frankfurt, Moscow Domodedova and London Gatwick. The Stoke proposal is a game changer that will breathe new life into HS2.

Mikeb   21/10/2014 at 16:55

When the French high speed lines were being planned, almost everyone wanted to be on the network but, of course, it was impractical to include every town or city. Whilst Stoke has indeed put forward a good case to have a station on HS2, we also see quite a few other Northern towns and cities wanting to be part of the "big plan." Therefore, if Councillor Pervez is able to get HS2 Ltd to divert the line through the environs of Stoke, I hope that it is in a calm and persuasive manner and not by throwing a tantrum if they initially turn him down. With regard to Crewe, hopefully consideration would then be given to constructing a high speed spur to join the WCML somewhere near Basford Hall, for services to Liverpool, Warrington and the North.

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