The government are getting on with building HS2. Legislation to build the first phase to Birmingham is progressing well, and last week the Chancellor confirmed the funding. Today (30 November 2015) we are responding to the report published last year by Sir David Higgins, chairman of HS2. He recommended building the line to Crewe more quickly, so as to bring the benefits to the north sooner. I have therefore announced my decision on the section from Fradley in the west midlands to Crewe, now referred to as section 2a. We intend to accelerate the building of that section so that it opens in 2027, which is 6 years earlier than planned. That will bring faster journeys to Crewe, Manchester, and other cities in the north and Scotland, thereby supporting growth, jobs and the northern powerhouse. I have set out those plans in the Command Paper and supporting documents, copies of which have been placed in the Library.
The remainder of Phase Two will see the full Y-route built to Manchester and Leeds by 2033, and today I have set out my plans for the rest of the Y-route, ahead of a route decision next year. I am also asking HS2 to explore how we might best serve Stoke, including via a junction at Handsacre. Handsacre junction will be part of Phase One and will allow trains to serve stations on the existing line through Staffordshire.
I want to ensure that those affected by the scheme are properly compensated. The government are committed to assisting people along the HS2 route from the west midlands to Crewe. Today I am launching a consultation on a proposal to implement the same long-term property assistance schemes for Phase 2a as we have for phase 1. As with Phase One, the government propose to go above and beyond what is required by law, including discretionary measures to help more people. HS2 will deliver economic growth for this country, not just in the immediate future but for the long term, and that is why we continue to commit to this essential project.