HS2 plans to be accelerated

Messenger Newspapers: HS2 plans to be accelerated HS2 plans to be accelerated

HS2 is to reach the north west six years earlier than planned, as part of proposals to create a regional transport hub at Crewe.

In a report published today, HS2 boss, Sir David Higgins, stated that the Crewe interchange would be in place by 2027.

Sir David said: "This would bring together road and rail services for the region as a whole, allowing faster services sooner to Manchester, the rest of the North West and to Scotland."

Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West, told Messenger last year that an interchange at Crewe could prevent the line from cutting through Warburton village, it is not yet clear whether this will be the case.

Sir David said: "Although final decisions must await the outcome of the recent consultation, I believe it is the right strategic outcome in the long term and, by combining road and rail services in one interchange, it would also act as a real agent of change in that region."

The former Network Rail boss argued that the proposal will deliver more benefits than the currently proposed HS1-HS2 link.

"But it is an imperfect compromise because of the effect it would have on existing passenger and freight services and the local community."

Sir David also stated that HS2 can improve connectivity within the north, not just between the north and London.

The report highlighted that a rail journey between Manchester and Liverpool takes 47 minutes and Manchester and Leeds take 53 minutes, while it only takes two hours eight minutes to get from Manchester to London.

"For some areas in the north, capacity is as much an issue as in the south, but the bigger problem is connectivity - journey times are too slow," said Sir David.

"The key to improving those, particularly easy to west, is to integrate HS2 into the existing network to improve connectivity between cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, Manchester and Leeds, Leeds and Hull."

Sir David said he has been 'struck' by the growing recognition of how HS2 could improve the north, but local authorities need to take a holistic approach to developing their own visions of development around interchanges and stations.

The report highlighted a need for civic and business leaders are involved in the discussion about HS2 and that the second phase should be discussed alongside Network Rail's strategic business plan, which starts in 2019.

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