New HS2 rolling stock concept

HS2 North West extension bill laid before parliament

Image credit: Alstom and Hitachi Rail

The government is introducing a bill to parliament that will extend the new HS2 railway line northwards to Manchester.

The plans will see new high-speed stations being built at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport, making way for new lines to Leeds and Liverpool.

Once approved, the High Speed Rail (Crewe to Manchester) Bill will allow HS2 to continue its journey from Crewe to Manchester, which the government says will help boost local economies throughout north-west England.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says travel times from London to Manchester will be cut by around 55 minutes and Birmingham to Manchester by up to 45 minutes.

The DfT also estimates that the construction phase of the new leg could bring 17,500 direct jobs to Northern communities.

Thousands of jobs in the supply chain are expected to follow, including those in rolling stock depots to be established north of Crewe, as well as in Dumfries & Galloway.

Part of the new high-speed line will also be used for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) services between Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, helping cut the Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool journey to 35 minutes and Leeds to Liverpool to around an hour and a quarter.

The construction of HS2 to Manchester will allow capacity to double, or more, on the routes between Manchester and London to Birmingham.

When NPR is completed, similar capacity increases to Leeds and Liverpool will follow, with trains using the high-speed line and stations at Manchester.

The plans are all part of the £96bn Integrated Rail Plan which was published in November and caused outrage among many northern leaders because it formally scrapped HS2’s eastern leg between the East Midlands and Leeds.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are determined to improve transport connections and level up communities across the country and this bill marks a landmark moment as we bring HS2 to Manchester and lay the foundations for Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“Our £96 billion investment in rail in the North and Midlands and in connecting them to London will bring communities together, create thousands of jobs and make towns and cities in these key areas more attractive to business up to 10 years quicker than under any previous plans.”

HS2 Ltd also announced that it will aim to deliver a 10 per cent net gain in biodiversity for replaceable habitats on the Crewe to Manchester route.

The additional rail capacity HS2 will deliver could also allow more rail freight, which will help lower carbon emissions for goods haulage.

In December, the DfT started the long process of electrification works on the Midland Mainline.

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