Cheshire East Council has welcomed the announcement by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin that the Government is aiming to bring forward the construction of high speed rail to Crewe sooner than planned.
The final route has yet to be decided but the Council is delighted that the Secretary of State has called for HS2 to be ‘fast tracked’ and indicated again that Crewe could become the first northern hub for HS2 before the 250mph service continues to Manchester to form a new super-fast link across the Pennines.
Mr McLoughlin said in a key speech in Leeds yesterday: “I want to see if we can bring HS2 to Crewe faster than planned, subject to further analysis and a decision on the preferred route.
“I’m determined to deliver the benefits to the north as fast as possible. So I’ll prepare a dedicated Hybrid Bill in this Parliament.”
Commenting on the announcement, Cheshire East Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones said: “This is fantastic news and a real game changer – not just for Crewe and Cheshire East, but for Stoke, North Staffordshire and the whole region.
“The benefits to Crewe and the surrounding area would be massive in terms of jobs and the economy – but we want to share the growth and benefits with our neighbours.
“This Council has put in an enormous amount of work over the past two years to secure HS2 for Crewe and the prospect of an early hybrid bill, which could confirm Crewe as the northern hub, is something we look forward to with great anticipation.
“We want the right solution for Crewe that would enable the economic benefits to be enjoyed across the whole sub-region, stretching along a corridor from North Staffordshire to North Wales and Merseyside.
“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 utterly transform its economic prospects.
“Now we need to get on with working together with our neighbouring authorities to secure the benefits for all.”
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.
The entire project is estimated to be worth some £3.5bn a year to the south Cheshire sub-regional area economy.
Sixty-four thousand jobs are forecast to be created if the high-speed project arrives at Crewe, where there will be a boost to demand for homes and skilled workers.
Because of this, the Council is throwing its weight behind plans to boost education and training in the area to broaden and raise the academic and vocational skills and achievements of 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.