Cheshire East Council has hailed today’s historic announcement that the Government is committed to building HS2 high-speed rail via Crewe and will invest £5bn to help bring the project online six years early.
Chancellor George Osborne, MP for Tatton, made the landmark statement confirming the finalised route the HS2 project will take. It also confirmed that the northern section to Crewe would be completed by 2027 rather than 2033.
Cheshire East Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones hailed the announcement as a ‘game-changer’ that makes it certain that Crewe will get a HS2 hub station – helping create more than 120,000 jobs by 2040 and injecting £10bn a year into the wider region’s economy.
Cllr Jones also announced the Council is to establish a new regeneration company to deliver an economic growth strategy for the south Cheshire sub-region and seek Cabinet approval for the release of £500,000 from current budgets to deliver the HS2 programme. This strategy will be a key element of the wider Northern Gateway Partnership.
Previously the Transport Secretary had called for HS2 to be ‘fast tracked’ and indicated again that Crewe could become the first northern hub for HS2 before the 225mph service continues to Manchester.
Welcoming today’s announcement Cllr Jones said: “This is massive news and a real game changer – not just for Crewe and Cheshire East, but for Stoke, North Staffordshire and the region as a whole.
“This is not simply about high speed – it is crucially about capacity and connectivity. The benefits to Crewe and the surrounding area would be massive in terms of jobs and the economy – it’s a real once-in-a-generation opportunity, the like of which Cheshire East has not seen before.
“However, as we have consistently said, we want to reach out to our neighbouring local authorities and see the growth and benefits spread to them as well.
“This Council has put in an enormous amount of work over the past four years to seek to secure HS2 for Crewe and the new regeneration company will build on that.
“The confirmation of the HS2 route – which makes Crewe the logical place to locate the North West hub – is something we have been looking forward to with real anticipation.
“We want the right solution for Crewe and the wider region – 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.
“A hub station in Crewe would act as the gateway to the Northern Powerhouse and provide a vital link to the Midlands Engine. HS2 promises to bring a 21st century railway revolution to Crewe and utterly transform its economic prospects and those of the surrounding region.”
Mr Osborne also announced today that ex-head of the CBI busines group John Cridland would chair Transport for the North. This new body will look to improve transport links across the region.
An HS2 Superhub at Crewe would help deliver more than 120,000 new jobs and over 100,000 new homes across the Northern Gateway partnership area over a 25-year period. It will boost the region’s economy by £10bn a year by 2040 and also greatly increase demand for skilled workers.
Because of this, the Council has backed the creation of Crewe Engineering and Design UTC, which is due to open its doors to students next September, to boost education and training in the area and broaden and raise the academic and vocational skills of the region’s young people.
The mid-Cheshire towns including Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich, will see significant economic gains from improved connectivity.
The Council is working with Department for Transport and Network Rail to finalise the location of the new HS2 hub station at Crewe that would deliver both the needs of the railway and secure the levels of economic transformation to the Northern Gateway.
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 2033.