Cheshire East Council has welcomed the announcement by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin that a future government will bring forward the construction of high speed rail to Crewe sooner than planned.
The council acknowledges that the final route has yet to be decided but is pleased that the Secretary of State has indicated that Crewe could become the first northern hub for HS2 before the 200mph service continues to Manchester to form a new super-fast link across the Pennines.
Commenting on the announcement, the Executive Director of Economic Development, Caroline Simpson said: “This Council has put in an enormous amount of work to secure HS2 for Crewe and the prospect of an early hybrid bill in the next Parliament, which could confirm Crewe as the northern hub, is something we look forward to with great anticipation.
“We cannot emphasise strongly enough the economic growth it will bring to south Cheshire and north Staffordshire and, as we have always said, we intend that those economic benefits will be enjoyed across the sub-region, stretching into North Wales and Merseyside as well as North Staffordshire.
“The hub station in Crewe would act as the gateway to the Northern Powerhouse and HS2 promises to bring a second railway revolution to the town and transform its economic prospects.”
In October 2014, Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd., announced Crewe as the preferred location for a Superhub north of Birmingham. He also indicated it was hoped to deliver the northern section of the project five to six years sooner than the expected date of 2032.
Chancellor George Osborne dropped the hint in his autumn statement that the government wanted to see this happen sooner than initially planned. He said the government was analysing the possibility of “accelerating” construction from north of Birmingham to Crewe.
Caroline Simpson added: “All the signals appear to be showing green for Crewe. We remain extremely optimistic that the historic railway town will re-establish its great reputation as an engineering and transport capital for the whole of the north.”
Sixty-four thousand jobs are forecast to be created if the high-speed project arrives at Crewe where there will be a demand for homes and skilled workers.
Because of that the Council is throwing its weight behind plans for a new University Technical College and supporting schools and academies that wish to broaden and raise the academic and vocational skills and achievements of their students.
Many Cheshire East towns including Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich, will see significant economic gains and improved rail and road connectivity. A ‘development corridor’ stretching from Northwich to Stoke-on-Trent will evolve from the scheme.
The entire project is estimated to be worth some £3.5bn a year to the North West economy.