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HS3 plans must be developed swiftly with benefits felt by 2022 – NIC

Plans to develop the HS3 network should be complete by the end of 2017 with benefits being felt between Manchester and Leeds by 2022, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has recommended.

Chaired by Lord Adonis, the commission has called for a two-part plan for the Trans-Pennine route to reduce journey times between the two northern cities.

In its High Speed North report, the NIC, which was launched in October last year, has called for Network Rail, Transport for the North (TfN), the DfT and HS2 to prepare a single integrated strategy, combining short-term action with an ambitious long-term vision for HS3 – now known as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) – by the end of 2017.

It says that the first phase should concentrate on upgrading the link between Leeds and Manchester. This should comprise a long-term programme with the objective of reducing journey times to 30 minutes, alongside substantial capacity and frequency improvements.

In particular, the first part of the project should be a shorter-term plan, to be developed and implemented by TfN and Network Rail by 2022, to cut the journey time between these cities and to onward destinations by roughly 20% from 49 to 40 minutes, enhance capacity and improve service regularity and frequency.

For the second phase, Lord Adonis has called on stakeholders to identify and present a full range of options for delivery, providing a further step-change in connectivity between Manchester and Leeds, aiming to reduce the journey time to 30 minutes.

Lord Adonis said: “If the north is to become a powerhouse it has to be better connected.

“Leeds and Manchester are just 40 miles apart but there is no quick and easy way to travel between the two. In rush hour it can take more than two hours by car, by train it can be almost an hour.

“So we should kick start HS3 across the Pennines and slash journey times to just 30 minutes. But we must not wait decades for change - journey times should be cut to 40 minutes by 2022.

“A transformed northern rail network should include high speed connections to HS2 and the dramatic redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly to deliver jobs and investment across the centre of the city.”

The NIC’s report comes just a week after TfN released its spring report which said options for the NPR network – a rail link connecting the north from east to west – include initial ideas to cut down on journey times and increase capacity between the largest cities and Manchester Airport.

Lord Adonis has also recommended that the design of the northern phase of HS2 should be taken forward by HS2 Ltd, working closely with TfN, to ensure that this is planned and delivered to facilitate the development of the HS3 network. This would enhance connectivity between Leeds and Sheffield, between Liverpool and Manchester (and its airport), and between Sheffield and Newcastle, as well as to onward destinations.

Additionally, proposals for the redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly station should be prepared jointly by TfN, Transport for Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council, Network Rail, DfT and HS2 Ltd.

The NIC said these organisations should work to together to deliver detailed plans for the new east-west platforms 15/16 to facilitate delivery early in CP6 and unlock the development potential of the Mayfield site. And a masterplan for the longer-term development of Manchester Piccadilly station as a whole, incorporating capacity for HS2 services, should be developed.

It has also been reported that the chancellor will confirm funding for the NPR link between Manchester and Leeds, as well as the Crossrail 2 project, which the NIC recommended was made a priority last week, in tomorrow’s budget.

In a £300m package to boost transport links as part of the Northern Powerhouse, a £75m will be set aside to develop plans for a Trans-Pennine tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP said: “We know that good transport doesn't just help get people around, it helps them get on.

“The NIC has rightly identified these projects as transformational schemes that have the potential to further strengthen our economy.”

David Brown, CEO of TfN, said: “The report from the NIC provides further evidence of the need for sustained and well-planned investment to create a necessary transformation in Northern connectivity. 

“As announced today, we’re pleased to learn that the chancellor has picked up on the NIC’s recommendations and welcome additional funding to develop a well-researched and integrated strategy to drive forward Northern Powerhouse Rail. TfN is currently investigating best options for revolutionising journey times and train frequency between the north’s six principal city regions and the region’s biggest airport and expect to bring forward detailed proposals for action by the end of the year.”


The North!   15/03/2016 at 11:26

It's good to have support to accelerate projects in the North, but why are certain ministers (based in London...) still talking about a phased approach. CrossRail 1 - done in one big hit & instantly they talk about CrossRail 2 - again in a big hit. Please be fair when developing transport (and investing money) across the country. Anything north of Watford has been starved of investment for Decades - time for a catch up I think.

John   15/03/2016 at 12:12

Now then, how about linking the whole Shebang with HS1 instead of the stupid plan to go only to Euston??

John Grant   15/03/2016 at 13:56

Not just north of Watford, but northeast of Potter's Bar too -- Lord Adonis's report shows nothing east of the ECML, and the southern part of the ECML classed as "existing rail and tram" so clearly not part of the brave new world. I'm sure there's been a proposal for a Liverpool to Hull HS3 with a branch via Cambridge and Stansted to connect to HS1 at Stratford.

P Woodhead   15/03/2016 at 18:30

Lord Adonis wrong man for job. We need to widen M6 M62 M1 M4 M5 now. Rail projects are important but goods move by road. Stop faffing about. How do we fund it? Cut International aid by 50% which will require a change to the recent stupid law which was.supported through H of C by Pleb gate Mitchell

Jbzoom   16/03/2016 at 08:09

Woodhead indeed. Trucks are a major source of pollution and NOx emissions are above safe levels already at the East End of the M4 and in London. Vehicle emissions are a significant contributor to climate change. The logistics industry has made great progress with getting containers from ports to inland distribution centres, reducing lorry mileage substantially. New rail lines increase the ability of the rail network to handle more freight traffic. Widening motorways is the wrong answer.

Jb   16/03/2016 at 11:40

Absolutely! Restore an electrified Woodhead route and send fast container trains across the Pennines instead of these lorries trundling up and down the pass. We could enjoy a fast passenger service too. The tunnel's already there and the route is substantially still available. Sounds like good value for a relatively moderate investment to me.

John DB   16/06/2017 at 17:58

Two big mistakes for the North of England: ! Closing the Woodhead route. 2 Giving the 1950's concrete tunnel away to the CEGB (or whatever it's called these days) to put their cables through. Eddie Stobart makes increasing use of rail transport. He can see the light! More "Smart" motorways? I don't think so.

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