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Grayling confirms HS2 phase 2 route

The route that HS2 will take from Birmingham and onto Manchester and the north as part of phases 2a and 2b has today been confirmed by DfT.

It has been revealed that Phase 2b will run towards the East Midlands Hub, then on to Chesterfield and Leeds, before joining on to the existing network to York.

Phase 2a will also connect Birmingham Curzon to Crewe, before the new high-speed line takes trains to Manchester Piccadilly and Warrington separately.

The announcement also finally confirmed that the route plans to serve the station in Sheffield city centre, despite the government suggesting earlier this year that an HS2 connection at Sheffield Meadowhall was still on the table. This key decision was what initially delayed the process of defining a phase 2 route late last year, with several alterations having been put out for further consultation amid local controversy.

HS2 route map

The new line is expected to double capacity on some rush hour services and massively boost the economies of the north and the midlands.

Today’s announcement will also mean that journeys from Birmingham to Manchester will be cut in half from 80 to 40 minutes. The government has also asked HS2 Ltd to take forward the provision of a northern junction back on to the high-speed line, which could help deliver a connection between Leeds and Sheffield city centres in less than 30 minutes as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

And new plans for Crewe could also see the creation of a new hub station in the area and potential HS2 services to Stoke.

“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,” said transport secretary Chris Grayling.

“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.”

He added that by building a whole new railway line for high-speed intercity connections, the government will free up local services, resulting in 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,” he concluded.

Homeowners on the Shimmer estate in Mexborough, South Yorkshire that are affected by the new line will be able to secure a “comparable local home”.

TransCityRail 2017

David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, added: “Today we have taken a huge step forward in connecting eight 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.”

HS2 Ltd has uploaded detailed maps for phases 2a and 2b online.

The official unveiling of the northern leg of the project comes on the same day as two other major announcements for the future of high-speed rail in the UK: construction contracts worth £6.6bn were awarded to a number of companies, and the shortlists for the designers and engineers who will deliver three brand new stations and majorly expand London Euston.

HS2 Ltd also confirmed today that it 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 has already kicked off for Phase 1 and construction is due to start in 2018-19.

Top Image: David Mirzoeff PA Wire

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Michael   17/07/2017 at 17:00

Massive opportunity missed to improve trans pennine links by not utilising Sheffield Victoria site and linking via the Woodhead route. Also the ex Midland route from Sheffield to Leeds via Dearne Valley & Cudworth would have opened up more development/employment opportunities.

Mikeb   17/07/2017 at 21:45

As there is still no commitment to build a high speed spur right through to Liverpool, perhaps Network Rail will agree to carry out an upgrade to the WCML between Crewe and Weaver Junction (perhaps four tracks throughout). As plans stand, passengers travelling from Preston will be able to reach London far quicker than people travelling from Lime Street.

Miked   17/07/2017 at 22:43

Can someone explain the point of the Y-shape connecting the Manchester spur to Wigan? Aside from a slight improvement to capacity on the Crewe-Wigan section of WCML, surely the time saved can't be much by avoiding that bit of "slow" 125mph track?

J, Leicester   18/07/2017 at 09:04

Michael, the Woodhead Route would form "HS3", so it was not going to be announced in this round of confirmations. There's still every chance it will happen, but it was always going to be a "long grass" scenario for 2035-45.

Graham Nalty   18/07/2017 at 14:35

There are so many missed opportunities in the choice of route. Why not have Leeds HS2 trains going via a Sheffield city centre station. why not serve Stoke city centre better and take advantage of HS2 to give Stoke fast links to other northern cities such as Liverpool.

Mark Hare   18/07/2017 at 15:26

Why 'missed opportunities'? I may be wrong but the remit of HS2 is not to connect towns and cities in the north with other towns and cities in the north. If the chosen route included more station stops then it quickly becomes rather less than 'High Speed', surely?

Graham Nalty   18/07/2017 at 18:46

Serving the centre of Sheffield instead of Meadowhall is not adding extra stops. But I think the idea that HS2 is about speed has been very much played down in favour of suggesting that it increases capacity. And having a city centre station in Sheffield will increase capacity because of all the additional connections that will be possible. The HS2 motto is 'Engine for Growth' and a city centre station in Sheffield will surely drive growth as others have pointed out.

Simon Eames1990   18/07/2017 at 22:17

HS2 is a terrible waste of money! Shouldn't the money be spent on improving the rail network by electrification, reopening lines and removing bottle-necks?! If HS2 doesn't get scrapped the rest of Britain's railways will suffer lack of funding for improvements and severe neglect. Chris Grayling is a total idiot.

Andrew Gwilt   19/07/2017 at 00:05

Next is he could be planning Phase 3 of HS2. Or possibly Phase 1 of HS3.

Peterfgf   19/07/2017 at 06:55

I think that the Woodhead route has been reserved for a motorway. The road layout around Manchester and the release of ideas for a road tunnel under the Pennines strongly suggest this.

Pwt   19/07/2017 at 10:35

Simon Eames1990; you (and many others) are missing the point. The money to be invested in HS2 is NOT an alternative to investment in the national network. Read the Roger Ford article in the latest Modern Railways. It IS an investment in the UK's railways as opposed to highways so please be more positive.

Mark Hare   20/07/2017 at 12:04

@Simon Eames1990 - it might have escaped your attention but there are many recent and indeed ongoing projects on the existing railway where work is being carried out on electrification (eg. GW Main Line and Manchester to Preston, reopening lines (eg. Tweedbank, EastWest Rail), and removing bottlenecks (eg. WCML upgrade also the Hitchin Flyover). Much of the current railway, particularly in the North-South corridor has been upgraded at great expense but is still at or near capacity and the only solution is to build a brand-new high-speed railway. HS2 will NOT be scrapped, and nor should it be.

Geordie   21/07/2017 at 11:29

I just cannot understand why trains from Liverpool have to travel 40 miles to Crewe before accessing the new Hs2 line. hs2 crosses two existing lines between Manchester and Liverpool before reaching Preston so why cannot a junction be made with one of them so that Liverpool trains can get onto Hs2 much earlier and cut journey times to Euston much more than the current plans do.

John   30/07/2017 at 18:56

Geordie. The whole Phase 2b section from Crewe north needs re-designing. The 2010 Tory manifesto was to dump the Heathrow 3rd runway expansion, so promoted HS2 and a link to Manchester airport accessible only from B'ham and London. The fate of Heathrow was one of the prime reasons for HS2. The 3rd runway is now on and HS2 is still running to Manchester airport via an expensive route around Tatton and through a 7.5 mile tunnel to Manchester centre, and the airport is still only accessible from B'ham and London and is a stand alone station with no connection to the existing station - and to get to the terminal a bus is needed. Madness! The Heathrow station has been dropped. NPR and the North West section of HS2 should be designed as one with the Manchester airport station dropped. The best route through Manchester is via Victoria, not Piccadilly which faces the wrong way. Then Liverpool can use NPR to access the north-south spine of HS2, as should Manchester.

John   30/07/2017 at 19:03

Mark Hare, the real congestion is on the WCML south of Rugby at peak times. There is a small amount where the WCML is 2 track from Crewe north. The WCML takes twice the traffic of the ECML. The Birmingham train can be put on an electrified Chiltern line, which needs electrifying, alleviating the souther WCML congestion. The ECML & WCML can have the bottlenecks removed which will improve times considerably and also improve safety. HS2 is just not needed. New faster trains have ensured it is not needed.

John   30/07/2017 at 19:08

Geordie, To get to Birmingham from Liverpool the trains will still as they are today, on the WCML, not running on HS2 track at all. The Tory government have this hatred towards Liverpool, which has a city region of around 2 million, and boy it shows.

John   03/08/2017 at 08:34

The Liverpool city region has more London rail passengers than `all` of Scotland. And also more coach passengers than `all` of Scotland. With a poor London-Liverpool service, There is a good chance that either Glasgow or Edinburgh or both will still have less London Passengers and less intermediate passengers than Liverpool. High-speed rail to Scotland will cost a many times more than Liverpool's spur to HS2. The benefit/cost ratio clearly leans towards Liverpool. Can you ever envisage the Scots allowing one of its 2 major cities to have a high-speed rail link and not the other?

John   03/08/2017 at 08:47

Manchester chose to turn one of it's heavy rail alignments running through Altringham into a route for a street running trams. Trains from Chester via Altringham have to go the long way looping via Stockport. This wastes time for commuters and added needless capacity between Stockport and Manchester. It was 4 track between Altricham and Manchester. The 4 tracks can be re-instated and the Stoke train go via Altricham, maybe by building the odd curve. This takes the strain away from the Crewe to Manchester, via Stockport, section. The Crewe-Manchester line then becomes a direct expressway. Take away bottlenecks and the London-Manchester service, building HS2 to Crewe only, will only be few minutes less than the predicted HS2 times. The capacity is there. They refuse to see it.

J, Leicester   03/08/2017 at 09:12

How many more times do I have to drill it in, John? Liverpool is geographically unsuited to be on a network designed to accommodate through connectivity and classic rail interchange. Crewe and Manchester have been chosen as hubs due to their numerous onward journey options - the same will apply to Toton when it is built. Scotland is a bad example, because again both Glasgow and Edinburgh act as gateways to the rest of Scotland, while themselves being major economic hubs. Liverpool, on the other hand, while admittedly a large standalone market, is a stepping stone to nowhere in particular, save ferry traffic to Ireland - and if you're catching a boat rather than a plane to the Emerald Isle, speed is not likely to be your main concern. People need to realise that the HS network is not merely a conduit for direct connectivity between London and X or Y city, but a means to allow faster onward journeys via classic rail from those hubs.

John   03/08/2017 at 12:47

@J, Leicester You are writing absolute nonsense. The demographics and geography of Liverpool has all been explained to you, yet you still insist on this mantra. Manchester is a branch not a through route of HS2, it is a stepping stone to Manchester only. The only way Manchster can be a through route is to bore a base tunnel under the Pennines. Birmingham and Leeds are branches as well. Crewe is a natural hub as 6 classic lines radiate from it. A high-speed hub is essential there. Manchester currently is a rail bottleneck. A mess. The station chosen for HS2 in Manchester even faces the wrong way. A fortune can be saved by eliminating the and the local and regional rail around Manchester improved if the 4 tracks are reinstated from Altricham to Manchester with the Stoke, Chester, etc, trains running up that. Reinstating the 4 tracks building the odd curve and removing bottlenecks from Crewe to Manchester will be faction of the cost of that ridiculous HS2 `S` bend around Tatton and the 7.5 mile gold plated tunnel into Manchester. And locals will actually benefit.

J, Leicester   04/08/2017 at 12:06

Go on then, John - what are the through traffic benefits of a spur to Liverpool? I'm still waiting for your answer. Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds all provide key through traffic opportunities - one of which is Liverpool in Manchester's case, funnily enough. On top of that, you've got current links to Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, York and both London to Scotland mainlines. Not much of a "branch" to me. To suggest that Birmingham, through which practically every north-south and east-west train in the western half of the country travels is a "branch" is disingenuous and makes you sound a little daft, to be frank. You are writing absolute nonsense. And yes, of course a new Trans-Pennine onwards route would further benefit Manchester's through traffic credentials - but a connection to Sheffield via the old Woodhead route still remains a possibility in "HS3" consultations, which would boost its connectivity to South Yorkshire at the very least. No such option exists for Liverpool. Of course, I agree with you that reinstating the Altrincham to Manchester 4-track is a good idea, but the way you're phrasing your point, and every other one you've made, seems to suggest you think Manchester doesn't need or deserve HS2 and that your city, out on a geographical limb, should get it instead. You sound bitter, to be honest. I get that there's a rivalry between your two cities, but all common sense dictates that Manchester is clearly the better option for a HS2 hub. Liverpool is always going to be the "end of the line" in railway network terms. It simply doesn't make sense to extend the network to it when classic-compatible HS2 services will suffice. The only thing I'll give you is that they should be running to Manchester rather than Crewe.

John   05/08/2017 at 09:35

@J, Leicester `Go on then, John - what are the through traffic benefits of a spur to Liverpool? I'm still waiting for your answer.` The Liverpool City Region is around 2 million. That is the answer. You have repeated been told about the size of Liverpool and the expanding port which needs HS2, and NPR (HS3) to alleviate rail in the region. Liverpool is the only deep water port on that coast. It serves its hinterland which is all the North of England and beyond. Birmingham, as is Manchester, is a HS2 branch. Look at the HS2 map. Manchester is NOT a HS2 through route at all. Trans-Pennine electrification has been halted. This is also a `very` slow winding Victorian built route. Woodhead has been ruled out ever carrying trains again. It is too high up the hill and cables run through the tunnels. There is no needs to run HS2 track into Manchester. There is a direct fast line line from Manchester to Crewe, which can be made faster. This will be a few minutes slower than HS2. The train spotters who want HS2 into Manchester shout that the 4 track section from Stockport to Manchester will be congested in the future. The congestion can be tackled by opening up the Altricham and Cheadle Heath sections into Manchester taking local and regional rail off the London-Manchester expressway. `Manchester is clearly the better option for a HS2 hub.` A HS2 hub there? That is as mad as HS2 itself. `Liverpool is always going to be the "end of the line" in railway network terms.` So is New York, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Marseilles, etc. But that does not stop fast trains reaching these important places. It simply doesn't make sense to extend the `direct` HS2 network into Manchester, when a direct fast line is already there. A waste of money.

John   05/08/2017 at 09:57

Liverpool will be negatively effected economically by being omitted from a direct HS2 link. KMPG, hired by HS2 Ltd stated so. NPR states that Liverpool, with its vital port expansion, needs a new line into the city. Manchester can be served by HS2 using an uprated classic line from Crewe with a substantial level of local and regional rail removed and put onto up reinstated lines. The locals then benefit.

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