The government has released refined plans for the Western leg of HS2. It comes as consultation begins into how best to integrate NPR and deliver the project in smaller sections alongside the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands.
The new proposals include an enhanced station at Crewe, further improvements to Manchester Piccadilly and Airport stations and a rolling stock depot in Scotland predicted to add 100 jobs to the local economy in Annandale. By integrating NPR and HS2, Transport for the North hopes that carbon emissions will be reduced and capacity unlocked, propelling the economic recovery.
The proposed plans are dependent on the government's Integrated Rail Plan, due to report at the end of 2020. This is expected to make recommendations on further projects in the Midlands and North, including plans for HS2 Phase 2b routes through Yorkshire.
Under current plans, TfN and NPR would have shared responsibility for 80km of rail infrastructure.
Future rail network
Announcing the plans, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said that the integration of NPR and HS2 was critical for the shape of the country's future rail network, connecting cities and regions and kickstarting economic growth by boosting jobs in the local economy.
The consultation is designed to ensure that businesses and passengers have input into the delivery of a rail network that provides better journeys across the North and Midlands to better meet their needs. The proposed upgrades to Manchester and Crewe stations are designed to integrate with NPR, reduce the amount of extra infrastructure and increase the number of services in the region with a view to developing a hub around Crewe.
Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North, Tim Wood, added that it was vital that the government's Integrated Rail Plan committed to similar improvements connecting the Midlands with Sheffield and Leeds as soon as possible to allow for the benefits of HS2 to level up all regions of the North.
Blueprint for rail
Northern Powerhouse Rail is aiming to deliver a complete transformation of the rail network in the North with the potential to be a catalyst for social and economic change. NPR is predicted to increase productivity by 2% and GVA benefits with a value of over £3bn a year by bringing 10 million people within 90 minutes of the four major northern cities. In the process 64,000 daily car journeys will be taken off the roads and an estimated 35,000 jobs created.
TfN said that the consultation marked solid progress and delivered further proof that the integration of HS2 and NPR would become a reality in the North. Tim Wood hoped that the government's Integrated Rail Plan would deliver a clear investment pipeline delivering benefits for all the communities in the North, with meaningful consideration given for the transformational projects at key interchanges that were under consideration.
The consultation follows the recommendations of the Oakervee Review which urged the government to commit to the full Y-shaped network and integrate into existing transport infrastructure.