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HS2 unveils chosen phase 2 route and £900m enabling works

The delayed phase 2 route of HS2 has been published, outlining exactly where the government will look to build the high-speed network through the north of England.

Despite this, the process is still not yet complete as the controversial decision of where Sheffield’s station will be has been postponed once again. Seven alterations to the originally planned route are also being put out for further consultation, with some likely to face resistance in areas affected. Last week, delegates at RTM's TransCityRail North dinner were told that an imminent decision on the route was expected. 

The government will now push forward with the Y-shaped route to Leeds and Manchester, which it claims will increase the capacity of inter-city trains three-fold to almost 15,000 seats per hour.  The total number of main line commuter and inter-city trains per hour each way into and out of Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds will double to 48, the DfT said.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, commented: “Our railways owe much to the Victorian engineers who pioneered them, but we cannot rest on their legacy when we face overcrowding and capacity problems.

“HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century; one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business.”

He assured residents which will be affected by the route that he is “desperately sorry” and that they would be “treated with fairness, compassion and respect”. Affected residents will immediately be compensated with measures such as a premium on compulsory purchases and support with moving costs.

Grayling has also published a command paper that sets out the defined route in more detail. On the western leg, the paper revealed HS2 will continue north from Crewe to Manchester Airport, and continue from the airport onto Manchester city centre. A new HS2 station will be built next to the existing Manchester Piccadilly station.

There will also be a connection to Liverpool and to the WCML which will allow services to continue north, serving stations in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

On its eastern leg, the high-speed route will continue from the West Midlands to Toton in the east, where a new HS2 station will be built, as previously confirmed. The line will also continue north from the East Midlands to South Yorkshire and, in line with Sir David Higgins’ recommendations, is expected to serve Sheffield with a connection to the city’s existing station. The DfT said it will be consulting on details before a final decision is made next year.

From South Yorkshire, the chosen route will continue to Leeds, where a new HS2 station will also be built in the city centre adjacent to the existing station. It will also have a connection onto the ECML so that HS2 can serve York, Newcastle and other locations in the north-east.

Seven further ‘refinements’ are being consulted on to shape further route details in both the western and eastern legs. These include, for example, moving the previously proposed rolling stock depot at Golborne to a site north of Crewe and moving the route to the east of Measham in Leicestershire, avoiding the most significant impacts of local manufacturing businesses and development sites.

As well as the route announcement, Grayling also revealed that HS2 Ltd has awarded a major £900m contract so that construction on the first phase of HS2 – between the West Midlands and London – can get underway next year.

The companies to receive the contract are:

  • Area South – CS JV (Costain Group Plc, Skanska Construction UK Ltd)
  • Area Central – Fusion JV (Morgan Sindall Plc, BAM Nuttall Ltd, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Ltd)
  • Area North – LM JV (Laing O’Rourke Construction Ltd, J Murphy & Sons Ltd)

A spokesperson for High Speed Rail Industry Leaders welcomed both the route and the £900m enabling works announcements, which they considered of equal importance.

“HS2 was never just about faster journeys from London to Birmingham, and this phase will extend the transformative economic benefits of the project to cities all across the country. It also creates a springboard for a full national network that will bring HS2’s benefits to cities such as Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, Leeds, Crewe and Manchester,” the spokesperson said.

“HS2 will revitalise the northern economy by driving urban regeneration and creating tens of thousands of jobs in key towns and cities. The improved connectivity will make these cities a more attractive location for businesses, transforming local communities and providing a huge economic boost to Britain.

“The award of the enabling works contracts is equally important. It means that within months’ spades will be in the ground and construction underway.”

A proposed route for the northern half of HS2 was first published in 2013 but a review of the programme and disputes over station locations meant that detailed plans have been delayed by almost two years. However, the DfT still expects the £55bn scheme to be up and running by 2033.

The bill to secure phase 1 of HS2, between London and Birmingham, is expected to pass through Parliament this autumn, allowing construction to begin next year. Legislation is expected to be introduced in 2019, with phase 1 due to officially open in December 2026. Phase 2a, extending the line to Crewe, will open the year after.

Although phase 2 has received widespread support in northern cities, the scheme has so far been most fiercely opposed in the Chilterns, where construction will reportedly bring no benefit to those affected. However, the publication of the detailed route is likely to increase opposition, with more families facing the compulsory purchase of their homes for demolition.

David Brown, CEO of Transport for the North said: “We welcome the publication of this report on the next phase (Phase 2b) of HS2 and the fact that the secretary of state has recognised how an enhanced rail network in the North and HS2 can complement each other. 

“A fast HS2 rail link cradling and interfacing with a fast new northern rail network is exactly what is needed to provide the capacity and connectivity we require to grow and develop the full potential of the North. As stated by the secretary of state, the National Infrastructure Commission has recognised that rail is vitally important to realising the potential of the Northern Powerhouse and that Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) should maximise the benefits of investments in HS2, the Transpennine Route Upgrade and the new northern franchises (TPE and Northern). 

“There is still a consultation process to go through, and we are in discussions on the eastern leg of the HS2 route in the Sheffield area but today marks a major step forward in bringing these vital transport links closer to being a reality.”

(Image: c. HS2 Ltd)

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David.Ward   15/11/2016 at 12:33

Come on and lets get on with it, same argument from those against as in the 1830's/40's with the new railways then, 'Not in my backyard'. What would the man lying in a grave in St Wilfred's Parish Church, Northenden, South Manchester have to say, the great Sir Edward Watkin, a man of enormous vision

Pedr   15/11/2016 at 12:47

Please can we see a map at an adequate scale?

Tothehills   15/11/2016 at 12:48

I agree lets get started - it looks the southern end is fairly well fixed. The northern end is more interesting though - do we really need the "Y" formation. Looking at the map of the UK, I would be inclined to run a single link north to Manchester then across the Pennines to Leeds, rolling in HS3 with HS2. There seems very little point in having a southwards connection to Manchester Airport (why would someone from South of Birmingham fly to or from Manchester, and if they want to it sure won't be time critical). Such a change would give much better connectivity for less cost. Sheffield could be connected to HS2/3 combination with a northwards connection (to enhance the Northern Powerhouse). With a big upgrade to the MML for connections southwards (which we are planning to do anyway).

Andy   15/11/2016 at 13:22

Could we have a map showing the exact route and which towns and villages it goes through

Mike   15/11/2016 at 13:37

Good news about the go ahead. Its a pity the northern section can't be started earlier. 2033 is along time off.

Geordie   15/11/2016 at 13:50

" A connection to Liverpool" ? Hardly. Unless you mean the WCML which has been there for more than a century. No, there's nothing in this at all for Liverpool, in fact the city will be made even less competitive with its neighbour 35 miles to the east which will not only have a dedicated captive link, but TWO new Hs2 stations and one of the world's most expensive tunnels per mile to serve them. This claim that phase two has been welcomed by Northern cities does not stand up to scrutiny as far as Liverpool is concerned.

Paulp   15/11/2016 at 15:02

"Tothehills" - Why would you go north to Manchester to travel down to London? As for MML upgrade they are already talking about stopping the electrification at Kettering. Interested to see in the article that the justification is: - 'NEVER was about speed.

Adrian Norman   15/11/2016 at 15:42

Pedr and Andy, for maps google HS2 Route and find the Phase 2 Route Engineering Reports

GW   15/11/2016 at 17:09

The northern sections are more important for rebalancing the economy that the southern section. Birmingham to Manchester is a reasonable period of time, likewise Leeds.

Michael King   15/11/2016 at 19:39

Liverpool gets a lot....Crewe is near. It will get pathways freed up on WCML. And less disruption in the city itself?

Lee   15/11/2016 at 23:42

Shall we all fly to Manchester and back to London for the next 20 years while the filth behind this evil satanic noise and destruction project line thier pockets?

Geordie   16/11/2016 at 17:12

Michael King: "Liverpool gets a lot" Really? As much as Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Wigan, Preston, Derby,etc etc.? No, all theses places are on or very near the 2a route, Liverpool is 45 minutes away at best. The city is being mugged off.

Banklineman   16/11/2016 at 17:52

The South Yorkshire section again is in the melting pot, HS2 chairman David Higgins concludes latest route saves billions of £s etc etc but in the end its all down to the Secretary of State to decide. He concludes Sheffield Victoria is to difficult and expensive and monies saved could be spent on other parts of the scheme,Sheffield Vic is 41 miles from Manchester Picc and geographically, ideally placed to connect to HS3 on the approach to Manchester from this direction, it would save billons £s Liverpool would get its HS2 / 3 connection along with Leeds, York, Hull and Newcastle all your large northern cities are coupled up. No tunnelling for miles on the south side of Manchester all avoided, Yes Mr Chairman you could save a boat load of money. Whats the point of the "Y". Save the MONEY

John Webster   17/11/2016 at 09:51

It looks like Liverpool will have to use the West Coast Line to Crewe until HS3 arrives (WHEN! or IF!). Would it not be possible to make a westerly connection with HS2 off the link to the West Coast at Bamfurlong connecting to the Manchester - Liverpool line at Lowton. I realise this would be the slow bit but it is nearer to Liverpool than Crewe.

John Webster   17/11/2016 at 13:05

Another option for HS2 to Liverpool would be to make a connection from the West Coast Link to the ex Cheshire Lines railway between Glazebrook and Birchwood. This would then also serve Warrington (with possibly a new station in the Orford Lane area and using the old, straighter alignment to Sankey Bridges) and Liverpool South Parkway, thereby making use of more 4-track railway at the Liverpool end.

Geordie   20/11/2016 at 14:40

John Webster; I couldn't agree more. I made the same suggestion of a link to the Hs2 line from the Trans Pennine route two years ago to the 20miles more people, but they did not seem interested. This curve, or chord, or whatever you want to call it, would mean CC trains from Liverpool to Euston would only travel for 15 minutes or so on conventional tracks before hitting the Hs2 line, thus significantly reducing the journey time and possibly, more importantly, freeing up more pathways on the WCML through mid Cheshire. It would mean less building work at Lime Street if Captives are not needed. Waiting for Hs3 is not an option, as this can be best described as Pie in the Sky. As I have said before, Liverpool is being mugged off with promises of an Hs3 link, especially as the government will once again concentrate on helping out Manchester and Leeds if this so called "Northern Powerhouse" line ever happens.

Simhedges   23/11/2016 at 01:22

"There seems very little point in having a southwards connection to Manchester Airport (why would someone from South of Birmingham fly to or from Manchester, and if they want to it sure won't be time critical)." - When Manchester Airport is only 70 minutes from London, you'd be surprised.

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