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Monday 17 March 2014

On The Right Track

On The Right Track – Council Leader welcomes HS2 boss’s call to speed up high speed rail delivery and create a strategic transport hub for the North at Crewe

Leader of Cheshire East Council Michael Jones has applauded the new boss of HS2’s call to accelerate the extension of high speed rail and create a major strategic transport hub in Crewe.

In a report published today, Sir David Higgins said a 43-mile stretch to Crewe should be built by 2027, rather than 2033, to extend the benefits to the North more quickly.

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.

Sir David, CEO of HS2 Ltd, who heads the £50 billion HS2 scheme, is advising minsters to speed up the delivery of the scheme, which would currently see a high-speed route opening between London and Birmingham by 2026 with further extensions to Manchester and Leeds by 2033.

However, his proposed revised timetable could see a new transport hub opening in Crewe in 2027 and the remaining links to Manchester and Leeds as early as 2030.

Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, and chairman of the Local Transport Board, welcomed today’s HS2 report recommendations for Crewe. He said: “This is the right strategic solution – not just for Crewe.

“This is the right solution as Crewe uniquely offers 360-degree connectivity to Wales, the Midlands – including our near neighbour Stoke – the North and beyond to Scotland as well as to the South.

“It would deliver the benefits of HS2 connectivity between north and south – in terms of better services and increased passenger and freight capacity – much sooner.

“Crewe is now firmly on the right track – and we look forward to working with our neighbouring authorities and partners to get the best results for the wider region.

“I now call upon Stoke City Council and Local Enterprise Partnership to join with Cheshire East and make a Crew hub work for both of us.

“Working together is better than being apart and Cheshire East has always said that the Crewe proposals must include jobs and development for Stoke. It’s time we talked. And I am writing to the Leader of Stoke City Council to that end.

“We are pleased that Sir David has seen the rationale and logic of the Crewe hub and the connectivity.

“I am very fortunate to have Crewe with its rich rail history and connectivity and it makes the process easy to push hard – and I’m pleased to see this Conservative vision for Crewe being pushed forward.

“Starting construction in the North earlier is the logical answer to deliver more benefits to more people across the region and beyond and I welcome this being seen as a bigger priority.

“I also welcome Sir David’s call for cross-party political support for the project. Delaying would have costs by impacting on our future economic growth and prosperity.

“HS2 is key to delivering plan-led and jobs led growth, not only in Crewe and Cheshire East, but the North as a whole.

“With this 360-degree connectivity secured, I believe that we would achieve the maximum economic benefits for UK plc and for the local people and businesses of Cheshire East.”

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