HS2: Phase two report proposes new station for Crewe

Image source, FARRELLS
Image caption,
An artist's impression shows how the proposed station in Crewe would look

A report into the route of the second phase of the controversial fast train project HS2 is expected to recommend a new station be built in Crewe.

It means a bid by council leaders for Stoke to be included on the line is likely to be rejected.

Monday's announcement is set to recommend sticking with a plan to split the line in two after the London to Birmingham stage opens in 2026.

HS2 will then be extended to Manchester and to Leeds via Sheffield by 2032.

The scheme's boss, Sir David Higgins, has spent months looking at whether the government has got the right route for the second phase of HS2 in the north of England.

The government's earmarked route for the western branch of the second phase of HS2 - which will see trains will travel at 225 mph (362km/h) - ran through Crewe.

Image source, Other
Image caption,
The speed of the HS2 trains will cut journey times

The initial plans suggested HS2 would connect with the West Coast Main Line south of Crewe, before continuing in a tunnel under the town heading north.

But both Crewe and Stoke launched business cases for new stations to be built.

The Crewe option proposed an out-of-town station while Stoke offered a city centre station linking up to its university quarter.

Stoke council had suggested its route was greener and cheaper and would deliver benefits to more people.


Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Crossrail is under construction in London and there are calls for better transport in northern England

By Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

This report is likely to rubber stamp the current plans for HS2 north of Birmingham rather than propose big changes.

The shape will be the same, the stations in roughly the same places, although a new station at Crewe could have a knock-on effect.

Stations are the most expensive things, so if Sir David Higgins wants to build a new station at Crewe, and keep costs down, one option is to lose a station elsewhere.

The most likely candidate is Manchester Airport, because the others all serve cities. This doesn't mean they will definitely delay building it, but they might.

I am also expecting some urgent warnings about the state of transport in northern England.

Sir David has been looking at various options to speed the trains up across the Pennines, between Leeds and Manchester.

It's a 40-mile trip that takes nearly an hour and the roads aren't much better.

Momentum is building to spend money connecting up the great northern cities to boost the economy.

All the cash has been aimed at London and the South East recently, especially with the brand new line, Crossrail.

Another station between Derby and Nottingham may also have to be moved to a slightly different location, said our correspondent.

Construction on the £50bn HS2 project is due to start in 2017.

Objectors to HS2 have said the scheme will cause an unacceptable level of environmental damage, loss of homes and disruption to many communities.

But in January the Supreme Court rejected a legal bid to force further scrutiny of the first stage of the government's plans.

Alongside HS2, Sir David's report will also update the government on what has been dubbed HS3 - a plan to speed up existing services between Leeds and Manchester. He has long warned that poor transport is throttling growth across northern England.

Image source, HS2 Ltd
Image caption,
HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins recommended extending the route to Crewe in his initial report in March

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