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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Council Leader welcomes report boost for HS2 and a strategic transport hub at Crewe

 

The Leader of Cheshire East Council Michael has welcomed a second major report which backs HS2 and calls for the creation of a major strategic transport hub at Crewe.

Councillor Jones said of today’s report by Lord Paul Deighton, chair of the HS2 Growth Taskforce: “This report makes clear that HS2 is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity that has to be seized and that Crewe is the ‘real deal’.

“It makes clear that Crewe is ‘a natural gateway’ and central to creating a transport hub for road, passenger rail and freight for the North, the Midlands, North Wales and beyond.

“HS2 is an opportunity for transformational change to rebalance and re-energise the economy of UK plc. It will be a catalyst to bring far reaching economic and social benefits – with investment-led, plan-led, jobs-led growth not just in Cheshire East but in the North West and the wider country.

“This is the right strategic solution – not just for Crewe – but for the North and the country as a whole. And we have to act now to get it right. ‘Business as usual’ is not an option – what we need is the transformational change that HS2 and a strategic transport hub at Crewe brings.”

Cllr Jones added: “I welcome the fact that first the Higgins Report recognised the importance of Crewe for unlocking the early benefits of HS2 to the North – and now the Deighton Report gives further substantial weight to these compelling arguments.”

Cllr Jones also welcomed the report’s conclusion that the Government should support local councils to deliver their HS2 growth strategies and provide national co-ordination through a central delivery body (which works with local delivery bodies).

He also backed the recommendation to call on the Government to make railway engineering and advanced construction skills a national priority.

The Deighton Report says: “Crewe is ideally placed to act as a hub station to connect HS2 into the surrounding regions.

“Its strategic importance was recognised by the old London and North Western Railway, which identified that it was the optimal place to build a major junction.”

The report says the extra capacity released by HS2 provides an opportunity to reconfigure services and better utilise the strategic location of Crewe to serve major centres in the North West, such as Liverpool, Warrington and Chester and also Stoke, Stafford and all the local stations which form part of the commute into the bigger cities, supporting regeneration in the process.

The report further says that Crewe is a natural gateway to North Wales. Additional connectivity at Crewe into North Wales also supports the proposed strategic European freight corridor through to Dublin, via Holyhead. This helps to unlock investment in North Wales’ growing advanced-manufacturing sector.

On Monday (March 17) Sir David Higgins, CEO of HS2 Ltd, published a report which called on the Government to speed-up high speed rail delivery and create a strategic transport hub for the North at Crewe.

Sir David said a 43-mile stretch of HS2 to Crewe should be built by 2027, rather than 2033 as planned, to extend the benefits to the North more quickly.

He said there should also be a road, rail and freight transport hub built at Crewe, where the high-speed railway would meet lines to Liverpool, Chester, the Midlands and Wales.

Responding to a comment from Stoke Labour Councillor Andy Platt, who said ‘We are a Premier League city. Unfortunately Crewe is still in the fourth division,

Cllr Jones said: “The Labour Party should stop attacking Crewe and its people.

“But just for their information, just as Crewe has turned out to be an excellent feeder club to the Premier League for many top football stars, so an HS2 superhub at Crewe will be a feeder for the regeneration of whole of the North West – including Stoke.

“It always saddens me when politicians attack places rather than face reality. I would like to think this councillor would own up to his mistake and apologise to the great people of Crewe.”

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