The high speed rail link connecting Crewe to Birmingham will open six years ahead of schedule in 2027, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed today - delivering a major boost to the Midlands, Northern Powerhouse and Scotland.
Set to considerably slash journey times and increase capacity on our busy railways, this new route has long been billed as a significant catalyst for driving growth and rebalancing regional economies across the country.
In confirming that the route will open six years earlier than planned, the benefits will be brought to the North much sooner and will build on the excellent connectivity which already exists at Crewe, supporting growth and local jobs.
Once Phase 2a has opened in 2027, the reduced journey times delivered by HS2 phases 1 and 2a will be:
- Crewe to London will be cut by 35 minutes
- Manchester to London will be cut by 40 minutes
- Glasgow to London will save 48 minutes
The government is committed to delivering the whole of HS2, setting out £55.7 billion for the programme in the 2015 Spending Review.
Once complete, HS2 will mean journey times fall by an hour from London to Manchester, by 53 minutes from London to Glasgow and by 65 minutes from Birmingham Curzon Street to Leeds.
In another boost for the Northern Powerhouse, the Chancellor confirmed that former Director General of the CBI, John Cridland has today been announced as the first Chair of Transport for the North (TfN), a new body created to help transform transport connectivity across the Northern Powerhouse.
The news comes just days after the Chancellor announced £200 million to support the operations of TfN and its delivery of Oyster-style ticketing across rail, bus, metro and trams across the region. He also confirmed at Spending Review 2015 that £13 billion would be spent on transport in the North over this Parliament.
TfN and the Department for Transport have also jointly launched their Autumn Report on the Northern Transport Strategy.
Chancellor George Osborne said:
In my Spending Review we committed to the biggest rise in transport spending in a generation meaning that major projects like the construction of HS2, to link the Northern Powerhouse to the South, can begin.
Bringing forward this part of the HS2 route by six years is a massive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse where high speed rail will play a big role in connecting up the entire region with the rest of the country.
It’s fantastic to announce someone of the calibre of John Cridland to take on the important role of chairing Transport for the North. He will bring huge knowledge and experience to this position and I want to say thank you to Sir Richard Leese for the great job he has done in an interim capacity. I look forward to continuing to work together to deliver our shared aim of a world-class transport system for the north.
Sir David Higgins published his “Yorkshire Hub” report today setting out his recommendations for a new hub station in Leeds, to connect HS2 to existing rail services in a single station and catalyse regeneration around the area.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
HS2 will mean an economic transformation for the whole country. Bringing HS2 to Crewe ahead of time is a tremendous opportunity for the North to feel the benefits even sooner. Cities across the North West and Scotland will gain much needed additional rail capacity and faster services, helping support growth and deliver jobs.
We continue to make good progress on our plans for the rest of HS2 Phase Two serving Manchester, East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds and will make a decision on the route in autumn 2016.
The government continues to boost economic growth by investing in transport with a clear focus on the Northern Powerhouse and I welcome the appointment of John Cridland as chairman of Transport for the North and look forward to working closely with him to deliver a world class transport network for the region.
Transport for North Chair John Cridland said:
I am delighted to take up the appointment of Chair of Transport for the North . There is much to do to improve transport capacity and links across the North , and we now have the opportunity to make this happen . I look forward to working with City leaders , Minsters and all stakeholders across the North of England.
HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir David Higgins said:
This is another significant milestone in the development of Britain’s high speed rail network. By accelerating the second phase between Birmingham and Crewe, we will bring the capacity, connectivity and regeneration benefits of HS2 to the North-West and Scotland years earlier than originally planned. It has also been very gratifying, as we develop the plans for Phase Two, to see a consensus grow among the city regions in the East Midlands and Yorkshire on the siting of future hub stations at Toton and Leeds city centre respectively. We all recognise the huge contribution this infrastructure investment can make in helping to rebalance our economy.
The Chancellor confirmed the government’s commitment to the full ‘Y-shaped’ network servicing Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
The Transport Secretary today published a Command Paper, High Speed Two: East and West - The next steps to Crewe and beyond, setting out his route decision on Phase 2a and providing a full update on the significant progress made on delivering HS2 to date and next steps.
He also launched a compensation and assistance consultation for property owners on the route confirmed today between Fradley, in the West Midlands, and Crewe with proposals that go well beyond what is required by law.