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HS2 phase 2 preferred routes set out

Words: Laura Edgar
HS2 train

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed the majority of the government’s preferred HS2 route from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds.

He said this is a major step towards “significantly increasing capacity on our congested railways” for both passengers and freight – improving connections between the biggest cities and regions, generating jobs, skills and economic growth and helping building an economy that works for everyone.

“The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory.

“But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with phase one, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law,” said Grayling.

The western leg of phase 2b


The preferred route for the western leg of phase 2b is 51 miles (82 kilometres) long.

According to a government document about the second phase of HS2, the southern end of phase 2b will connect to the phase route 2a south of Crewe. North of there, it will past under Crewe through a tunnel.

At its northern end, the western leg joins the West Coast Main Line (WCML) at Golborne, south of Wigan. A spur from the mainline would serve a new station at Manchester Airport before entering an eight-mile (13 kilometres) tunnel to reach a new station adjacent to the existing station at Manchester Piccadilly.

The western leg also includes a proposed rolling stock depot that would be located north of Crewe.

Bob Sleigh, chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) said the preferred route placed the West Midlands at the heart of the £55 billion HS2 network and was good news for future prosperity, improved connectivity, and much-needed capacity on the rail network in the region.

He said: “HS2 puts the West Midlands in a unique position, ensuring quicker journeys to the UK’s biggest cities and freeing up capacity on the existing rail infrastructure, without which services will suffer.”

“HS2 is a cornerstone of the WMCA’s strategic economic plan and will enable us to think about new ways of trading with other regions in skills and products, creating the critical mass of talent, innovation and accessibility that cities such as London take for granted.”

But Sleigh did acknowledge that there would be places in the WMCA region that could be affected by the route, such as Tamworth and Kingsbury, and urged residents to take part in the consultation on the routes.

The eastern leg of phase 2b


The preferred route for the eastern leg of phase 2b is 123 miles (198 kilometres) in total.

The government document states that at its southern end it connects to the phase one route at Marston in the West Midlands.

At its northern end, it joins the East Coast Mainline (ECML) via a connection at Church Fenton.

New stations are expected to be at Toton (East Midlands Hub), with a spur from the mainline going from the mainline to a new station at Leeds.

HS2 trains would run into Sheffield Midland using a dedicated high-speed spur and a junction at Clay Cross would connect to the existing network south of Chesterfield.

The eastern leg also includes an infrastructure maintenance depot at Staveley and a rolling stock depot at New Croft. HS2 is currently examining alternative sites for this depot.

Alan Rhodes, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, welcomed the proposal that the eastern leg included a station at Toton.

"Currently, the fastest rail journey time from Nottingham to Birmingham is 73 minutes, an average of around 41 mph for a journey of just 50 miles, which is woefully inadequate.

"HS2 gives us an opportunity to reduce these journey times significantly and provide economic benefits to both businesses and residents in our local communities through improved access to job opportunities across the Midlands.

He said the county council is pushing to ensure maximum benefits are achieved through the latest consultation and in the detailed planning stage, while also ensuring that local and environmental factors are carefully taken into consideration.

The refinement consultation for the HS2 Crewe to Manchester, West Midlands to Leeds can be found here.

More information about the routes can be found here.

Image credit | HS2