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Saturday 10 March 2018

Cheshire East welcomes new report on HS2 in Crewe

Cheshire East Council has welcomed a report that shows support for increased HS2 connectivity and more frequent high-speed train services to and from Crewe.

Today the Department for Transport published the results of the consultation ‘Crewe Hub: options for building on existing connectivity’, held between July and October last year.

The council welcomes the publication of these results, which sought views on alternative scenarios for a Crewe hub that would enable additional HS2 connectivity at Crewe and bring other locations in the north on to the HS2 network, including Macclesfield – rather than existing proposals (in the Phase 2a Hybrid Bill) allowing only for two HS2 trains per hour at Crewe linking only to London.

It is clear from the responses that there is strong support for an alternative solution at Crewe with enhanced HS2 connectivity and a new northern junction allowing HS2 trains to return to the HS2 network north of Crewe and enabling direct high-speed services between Crewe and both Manchester and Birmingham.

The council, its partners and the Constellation Partnership, have long advocated that the regional transport, economic and regeneration benefits of HS2 to the area and beyond are dependent on securing the right solution for Crewe.

This means a new hub station capable of handling up to seven HS2 trains per hour, each way, and a new northern junction, allowing Crewe and the region to benefit from direct HS2 services to London, Manchester and Birmingham from Crewe.

This is clearly echoed more widely, with 114 consultation respondents in favour of more HS2 services at Crewe and only nine against and 109 in favour of a new northern junction with just 16 against.

This significant support towards the council’s vision for a Crewe hub has led the Department for Transport to make the following changes to the phase 2a scheme from Birmingham to Crewe:

● The provision of 400m platforms, extending Platform 5, to allow for the splitting and joining of HS2 services, which also opens opportunities for HS2 services from London to Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield;

● A more efficient design for the station to provide an enhanced passenger experience;

● A change to the design of the rail layout to improve operational performance of trains and reduce the impact on freight services.

Frank Jordan, executive director for place at Cheshire East Council, said: “This is very welcome and yet more positive news which highlights the wider connectivity and economic benefits of having an enhanced Crewe hub for HS2.

“The arrival of HS2 at Crewe by 2027 provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver nationally significant transformational economic growth and regeneration – not only to Crewe but also to the whole of the sub-region.

“An enhanced Crewe hub station would be the catalyst to deliver this growth, jobs and investment opportunities for Crewe and our partner councils and LEPs in the Constellation Partnership as well as the wider Midlands and North Wales regions.

“The provision of 400m platforms at Crewe is welcomed by the council as this will provide the capacity at Crewe to allow for HS2 classic compatible services from London to serve Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford and Macclesfield. This is excellent news for Macclesfield and sees the town join the HS2 network. The council will seek to work with the future West Coast Partnership franchisee to look at the opportunities for Macclesfield to be served by HS2 from 2027, six years earlier than phase 2b, as well as options for this service to extend north to Manchester.

“Government has stated that these modifications would not preclude Crewe’s ability to handle five to seven HS2 trains per hour if a new northern junction were delivered and would also allow for growth on the regional links to Crewe, such that they could each accommodate three to four regional services per hour. This would support the ambitions of the Constellation Partnership and other partners, including Growth Track 360, for improved regional connectivity to the Crewe hub and would unlock wider growth opportunities.

“The council is pleased to read of government’s support for the council’s vision for the Crewe hub and regeneration around it, as well as its partnership work and the vision for the Constellation Partnership set out in the Crewe HS2 Masterplan Vision and the Constellation Partnership’s Growth Strategy.

“However, there is still more to do to realise the vision for the Crewe hub and the council and our partners will continue to work with Network Rail and government to look at possible options to deliver a Crewe hub that would support these ambitious plans, not just for Crewe but for the wider region and beyond.

“The council and our partners will continue to make the case to government for the delivery of an enhanced Crewe hub by 2027, capable of serving up to seven HS2 trains per hour and for a new northern junction to be included as part of the phase 2b scheme.

“It is essential that we secure full commitment from government to the hub and northern junction to positively respond to the feedback to the consultation and realise the vision for Crewe and the Constellation Partnership.  As the government’s response within the report notes: ‘A well-integrated and high-quality Crewe hub is key to ensuring the maximum benefits are realised from the proposals’.”

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