HS2 Birmingham to Crewe gets fast-track treatment from Osborne
The second phase of the HS2 high speed rail link connecting Birmingham to Crewe will open six years ahead of schedule in 2027, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed today.
Insisting that the fast-track approach would deliver a “major boost to the Midlands, Northern Powerhouse and Scotland” Mr Osborne said the new route, Phase 2a, would be a significant catalyst for driving growth and rebalancing regional economies as well as slashing journey times.
The Government committed to delivering the whole of HS2 at a cost of £55.7 billion in the 2015 Spending Review. The first phase, from Euston to Birmingham, is expected to open in 2026.
Ministers will publish route details of part ‘b’ of HS2 phase two from Crewe to Manchester and Leeds next autumn.
A consultation will open on compensation and assistance for people who own property on the new stretch of route between Birmingham and Crewe.
Mr Osborne’s announcement puts paid to any faint hopes that HS2 might be routed from Birmingham to Stoke-on-Trent rather than Crewe.
Once complete, HS2 will mean journey times fall by an hour from London to Manchester, by 53 minutes from London to Glasgow and by 65 minutes from Birmingham Curzon Street to Leeds.
Once Phase 2a has opened in 2027, the reduced journey times delivered by HS2 phases 1 and 2a will be:
- Crewe to London will be cut by 35 minutes
- Manchester to London will be cut by 40 minutes
- Glasgow to London will save 48 minutes
The Chancellor confirmed that former Director General of the CBI, John Cridland is to be the first chair of Transport for the North (TfN), a new body created to help transform transport connectivity across the Northern Powerhouse.
The news comes just days after the Chancellor announced £200 million to support the operations of TfN and its delivery of Oyster-style ticketing across rail, bus, metro and trams across the region. He also confirmed at Spending Review 2015 that £13 billion would be spent on transport in the North over this Parliament. Mr Osborne said:
In my Spending Review we committed to the biggest rise in transport spending in a generation meaning that major projects like the construction of HS2, to link the Northern Powerhouse to the south, can begin.
Bringing forward this part of the HS2 route by six years is a massive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse where high speed rail will play a big role in connecting up the entire region with the rest of the country.
It’s fantastic to announce someone of the calibre of John Cridland to take on the important role of chairing Transport for the North. He will bring huge knowledge and experience to this position and I look forward to continuing to work together to deliver our shared aim of a world-class transport system for the north.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
HS2 will mean an economic transformation for the whole country. Bringing HS2 to Crewe ahead of time is a tremendous opportunity for the North to feel the benefits even sooner. Cities across the North West and Scotland will gain much needed additional rail capacity and faster services, helping support growth and deliver jobs.
We continue to make good progress on our plans for the rest of HS2 Phase Two serving Manchester, East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds and will make a decision on the route in autumn 2016.
The Transport Secretary today published a Command Paper, High Speed Two: East and West – The next steps to Crewe and beyond, setting out his route decision on Phase 2a and providing a full update on the significant progress made on delivering HS2 to date and next steps.
He also launched a compensation and assistance consultation for property owners on the route confirmed today between Fradley, in the West Midlands, and Crewe.
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