Plans to integrate HS2 with Northern Powerhouse Rail take big step forward as consultation launched over key changes

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Plans to integrate HS2 with the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) project have taken a big step forward, with a consultation launched over key changes to the North West section of the huge project.

HS2 Ltd today started a consultation surrounding changes to Phase 2b, which would create links between the western leg in the North West and the proposed NPR network. It includes provisions for the Crewe North Hub, and changes to HS2 plans at Manchester Airport and Piccadilly stations.

It follows detailed development work by Transport for the North (TfN) on the NPR network, including how it will link-up with HS2.

TfN said it welcomes the move as “further progress in delivering a step-change for rail travel in the North”, and that it’s “vital” the plans to integrate the network on the east of the Pennines also progress.

Under TfN’s current plans, HS2 and NPR would share 80km of rail infrastructure.

Plans revealed today are subject to the outcome of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP).

Due to report at the end of this year, it’s expected to make further recommendations about major projects in the North and Midlands, including HS2 Phase 2b routes through the East Midlands and Yorkshire, NPR and plans for key stations such as Manchester Piccadilly.

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Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail director at Transport for the North, said: “It is good to see proposals for HS2 moving forwards, as the North has waited too long for the new investment it needs in high speed rail lines found elsewhere in Europe. Together, the two projects will form the backbone of a futureproof rail network for our region.

“But we must ensure that this investment allows for benefits to be shared equally across the North. Northern Powerhouse Rail relies on parts of HS2 infrastructure being built to run its trains too. Therefore it is vital the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan commits to bringing forward plans for the HS2 eastern leg connecting the Midlands with Yorkshire, including Sheffield and Leeds, and getting spades in the ground in the North as soon as possible.

“HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, delivered together in full, would tackle head-on the productivity gap between the North and the South, and provide the modern, fit-for-purpose railway the North so badly needs.”

Responding to news of the public consultation, Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect, said: “It’s good to see continued progress being made on HS2’s Western Leg, in particular, plans for enhanced Northern connections for Crewe and additional platforms at Manchester Piccadilly station that could improve connections from the West Midlands to Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland.

“However, it’s equally important that we progress plans for the Eastern leg of Phase 2b, and Midlands Connect will continue to work with Government ahead of the final publication of its Integrated Rail Plan at the end of the year.

“It’s essential that once this happens, similarly ambitious steps are taken to move the design and progress of the Eastern Leg forward, so that the communities of the East Midlands are not left behind.”

The news comes weeks after construction on Phase 1 of HS2 – from London to the Midlands – formally began.

HS2 Ltd’s consultation only considers links between the two projects in the North West, but TfN said under current proposals, the schemes would feature junctions and touchpoints across the north, including to the east of Leeds to speed up journeys to Hull and the North East.

TfN said delivering HS2 and NPR in full will “transform connectivity and support the regeneration of Britain’s towns and cities”.

Mr Wood added: “Today’s consultation marks solid progress and further evidence of these projects becoming reality in the North.

HS2, part of which will run through the East Midlands, is currently under review
Work on HS2 has begun

“The Government’s Integrated Rail Plan must deliver a clear investment pipeline that shares benefits right across the North’s communities. It must also give meaningful consideration to proposals for transformational projects at key interchanges, like those on the table for Manchester Piccadilly.”

TfN has previously called for Northern politicians and business leaders to have a clearer role in the development and delivery of HS2, with representation on the HS2 Ltd Board – so that it can be planned as part of an integrated approach alongside Northern Powerhouse Rail.


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