HS2’s huge potential to unleash economic growth across the North West and Staffordshire was outlined at a conference at Crewe Hall today (Thursday, December 4).
More than 100 people joined key players from the region’s railway industry at the Next Generation Rail Cheshire event. Attendees shared their desire for authorities in Cheshire and Staffordshire to work closely together to ensure the area obtains the maximum benefits from high-speed rail.
Cheshire East Council Leader, Councillor Michael Jones, rail enthusiast Pete Waterman, Network Rail’s Rupert Walker and OSL Global’s Mathew Conway all spoke of their shared vision for economic growth in the North West and Staffordshire through HS2.
HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins is advising the Government that a new station in Crewe should be built and operational by 2027, five years earlier than originally expected. Journey times between Crewe and London would be cut to just 55 minutes, 35 minutes quicker than the fastest current journey.
Councillor Michael Jones said: “The North West HS2 hub station is a tremendous opportunity for our region to thrive and prosper as an economic powerhouse. But we need a strong local partnership to ensure we achieve this.
“We want to work with our near neighbours in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to ensure our region gets maximum benefit from this historic opportunity.
“HS2 in the North West is all about energising the economies of Cheshire and Staffordshire. The North West hub station would provide a cradle for growth which would change the lives of millions of people.”
Rupert Walker, Head of High Speed Rail Development at Network Rail, added: “HS2 brings fantastic opportunities for the North West. The opportunity of delivering a hub in the North West will enable us to spread the benefits of the new line as widely as possible.
“As part of this, integrating the line with the rest of the transport network is hugely important. A new North West hub brings the opportunity to do that really effectively and it builds on the concept of seamless transfer between different modes of travel so people find it easier to use the railway.”
The event was independently hosted by ModernKulture and gave the likes of Pete Waterman the opportunity to talk about how the country needs to build on its Victorian rail heritage to make the network fit for modern day travel needs.
Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)’s Christine Gaskell spoke about the huge economic benefits expected in Cheshire from the HS2 investment and Mathew Conway, Director of OSL Global, offered insight into the roles of University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and OSL’s own training facility Royal Exchange Training Academy (RETA) that will be a host venue for industry-led projects.