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HS2 should be built north to south – Greengauge 21

Councils in the Midlands and the North of England are calling for earlier development of HS2, with more connections to existing stations.

Greengauge 21 looked at local government responses to the consultation on phase 2 of the line and identified a number of themes; for HS2 to be developed from north to south, to be built earlier, with more connections to existing lines in the North and the Midlands, and with complementary investment to deliver good transport access to HS2 stations. 

The Crewe-Lichfield segment of phase 2 and Manchester Piccadilly’s station should be built in the mid-2020s, with a new integrated station at Crewe. A selection of HS2 in Yorkshire should be advanced to relieve congestion and very slow sections of the existing network, Greengauge 21 suggested.

A short link between HS2 and the Midland Main Line would also provide access to Derby.

Greengauge 21 director Jim Steer said: “Looking at investment in new lines and the existing network together in the North and Midlands in the way we have identified is likely to lead to the discovery of ways to reduce overall project costs as well as advance the economic benefits for the North.

“And it is essential to realise that experience across Europe has shown us that regeneration can start in locations served by high-speed rail in advance of its opening. Anticipation, once it is clear this type of investment is going to happen is enough to attract the development community.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]

Image c. OpenStreetMap contributors


Lou Scales   10/02/2014 at 13:07

Makes a lot of sense. The building of the southern section will be stymied by public enquiries and many other protests for at least ten years. It would be a good idea for the northern and midlands cities and towns to review and confirm the most appropriate route and secure government support to get on with it. It is possible that more use can be made of existing underutilised track or expansion close to existing track to limit the impact as well. This is probably not possible for the southern half.

Michael Wand   10/02/2014 at 22:07

If HS2 started with the construction of an express commuter link between Manchester Victoria and Leeds, to follow the M62 eastwards from Rochdale, it would halve the one hour rail time between the two city centres (only forty miles) and at the same time fast-connect the rail networks of Lancashire east of Liverpool to those of Yorkshire, west of Hull. Good for the North South Divide and the North's own east-west divide. Studies for the Northern Way, reporting in 2011, found that "a 20 minute improvement in rail journey time on the trans-Pennine corridor between Leeds and Manchester would result in a GVA uplift of £6.7bn across the North of which just £2.7bn is captured in the two city regions." HS2 will not, cannot provide this key link. Once it gets to Birmingham it will send one high speed fork to Manchester and a separate fork to Leeds, setting in stone the Manchester-Leeds divide. Nor will it have a station at East Midlands Airport with connectors into Derby and Nottingham, nor reach customers south of the Thames: opportunities wasted. HS2 just wasn't thought out that way. Or, HS2 Plan B would start with this Northern Cities Crossrail and join it to a single north-south main line, with a station at East Midlands Airport: http://hsnorthstart.wordpress.... Critiques welcome

Ian Edwards   11/02/2014 at 07:45

The recent Centre for Cities report pointed out that London is creating jobs at ten times the pace of other UK cities. Starting building HS2 in the north will be like flagging up the start of the escape tunnel for talent and jobs to London. Much of HS2's claimed potential is assuming southerners will flock to the north for work and leisure. Can you imagine the cool social sets of London piling into Stoke-on-Trent or Sheffield...? And the London business crowd would simply use HS2 to hit the provincial cities looking for contracts to take back to London, while the provincial business community would use it to offer their services to the unstoppable London economy, thereby providing more resource to help London grow even faster. Forget HS2: sort out the London commuter overcrowding issues, and update rail in the provinces to allow people to move around more easily.

Karl Von Buen   11/02/2014 at 09:22

Just read Ian Edwards comment and cannot agree more with everything he says on this issue. It has to be the most insightful view on HS2 that I have ever read. How anyone can think that this white elephant is worth billions of our money and is somehow going to power the economy is completely beyond me. Though, of course, I fully accept that those who stand to make money out of this going ahead will do their level best to make it happenKE

Michael Wand   27/02/2014 at 22:26

'.. sort out the London commuter overcrowding issues." per Ian Edwards. Easier said than done, alas. The London economic honey-pot always grows in size to take up and (in time) exceed the peak hour capacities of its radial transport arteries. Always has done. Always will, given the chance. So, if HS2 builds London an entirely new rail spoke, bringing central Birmingham within an hour’s commute of the honeypot, London will grow again. The pressures for space and house prices there will rise. Then, we will be told that to meet the London housing appetite we must, simply must, build some Milton Keynes size cities over the Home Counties wheat-fields with new transport arteries to serve them, to sort out the London commuter overcrowding issues. So your call for rail to be updated in the provinces, to allow people to move around more easily, is part of the package that could make London less irresistible. Which is where HS2 Plan B and its Northern Cities Crossrail and East Midlands Airport station are coming from.

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