Stoke-on-Trent 'ignored' under HS2 rail route plans

image copyrightPA
image captionThe second phase of HS2, connecting Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds, is due to open in 2032

The proposed route for the high speed rail line HS2 ignores Stoke-on-Trent, according to some city residents.

Details of the second phase of the £32bn line have been unveiled by the government.

The preferred route from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds includes a stop at Crewe, which Cheshire East Council said would attract thousands of jobs.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council said it would lobby government for a stop near junction 16 of the M6.

'Victorian times'

Deputy leader of the council Paul Shotton, said it was important a "major city like Stoke-on-Trent" was included in the plans.

"[Crewe's] benefits are based on the Victorian connectivity of the railway, but we're not living in Victorian times now," he said.

Leader of Cheshire East Council Michael Jones, said the news that trains would stop at Crewe was fantastic for the area.

"We're very happy with the work so far. It wasn't coming through Crewe originally. We've proven a clear economic case and I'm glad the ministers have listened," he said.

Mr Jones said the line could bring "tens of thousands of jobs" to the area, including 100 at a planned maintenance depot.

Plans for Crewe include tunnelling under the town.

Mr Shotton said a stop near the M6 would be cheaper, have less of an impact on the environment and benefit more people.

'Engine for growth'

Although the preferred route for HS2 does not include a dedicated station at Crewe, the line is expected to join a spur on the West Coast mainline to allow high speed trains to stop at the existing station and link up with other services to Liverpool and Preston.

media captionGeorge Osborne: "I think it is the engine for growth in the north and the midlands"

Chancellor George Osborne's Tatton constituency, which includes part of the Cheshire East authority, will also be affected by the proposed route.

He said HS2 would boost jobs in the area and be an "engine for growth" for the country as a whole.

Conservative vice-chairman Michael Fabricant, whose Lichfield constituency lies on the proposed route, said: "This route plunges through rural Britain, rural Staffordshire and should use existing transport corridors.

"It blights the environment, homes and lives."

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin acknowledged "great anxiety" about the impact of the line on communities it passes through and near, but promised the Government would "consult properly, design carefully and compensate fairly".

Resident Elizabeth Vandvoir, from Hanford, said it was surprising HS2 would not stop at Stoke.

She said: "Surely the train could stop on the way, it would only take two minutes to stop in Stoke and carry on its way to Crewe, it's not going to add on that much time."

Mike Pearson, from Stoke-on-Trent, said: "As usual it's Stoke missing out.

"I don't understand why Crewe should have a stop and not Stoke, because it's just as much a gateway to the north."

The preferred route could also mean demolishing about 15 properties in South Cheshire and almost 20 through Staffordshire.

The route from Birmingham is expected to go through villages including Hixon, Madeley, Weeford and Whitmore Heath.

'Really, really sad'

June Brown-Bullivant, from the parish council in the village of Hopton, said: "[It] probably may not be in my lifetime when it is built but we will fight for future people who will be living here at Hopton."

Nicki Vanes lives in a hamlet near Weeford in one of seven World War I "hero" cottages, which are likely to be demolished because of the HS2 plans.

She said: "It's a lovely little community - we help each other, it's such a shame if that friendship and camaraderie has to go. We won't get that again.

"But apart from everything we're going to lose, the area will lose these cottages which were built for the men coming back from the war, and they're part of its history. It's really, really sad."

The route surprised some villagers in Madeley and Swynnerton.

John Platt, from Madeley, said the proposals would cause a lot of disruption in what was a very quiet village.

Nick Cheadle, who runs a shop in Swynnerton said he had expected HS2 to follow the West Coast mainline to the west of the village.

Mr Osborne said a "generous" compensation package would be included for those homeowners affected by HS2.

Staffordshire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport Mike Maryon said: "People who suddenly have property blight... their house one day was worth x amount, now it's worth 50% less... really haven't been covered for compensation yet.

"We need to work with those people to help them through their life."

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