HS2 has moved to appoint design and engineering consultants to drive the benefits of high speed rail in the UK further north, and earlier.
Under the original scheme the line between London and Birmingham was to be delivered by 2026 as part of Phase I, while Y-shaped extensions between Birmingham and Manchester and Birmingham and Leeds were to be delivered as part of Phase II, by 2033.
Now it is announced that the 96km section between Birmingham and a new hub station at Crewe will be accelerated out of Phase 2 and into a new Phase 2a, which will be delivered by 2027 – just a year after the opening of Phase I, and six years earlier than originally scheduled (Fig 1).
Extending the benefits of high speed rail to Crewe – which is already a natural interchange point between London and the North and Midlands – will cut what was a 90-minute journey to the capital, to 68 minutes in 2026, and by a further 13 minutes to 55 minutes when Phase 2a is completed in 2027.
Figure 2 (below) illustrates the benefits to other nearby northern cities in terms of improved journey times resulting from the accelerated Phase 2a (although note that when Phase 2 opens in 2033, Manchester Piccadilly will be directly connected to London via dedicated high speed rail and will not rely on local services via Crewe).
Accelerating construction of the line was a key recommendation of HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir David Higgins, in his 2014 report HS2 Plus. The following companies are appointed to advance the delivery of this section:
The winning firms will also help HS2 Ltd prepare a second hybrid bill to the UK Parliament to provide the necessary statutory powers.
Bringing forward this part of the project will help boost connectivity between the Midlands and the North and create a major transport hub allowing HS2 services to continue to Liverpool, Manchester and further north using existing lines. Historically, Crewe has always been the interchange point for regional services to the rest of the north of England.
“Bringing HS2 to Crewe six years early will dramatically boost connectivity and improve journeys for millions of people travelling between London, the Midlands and the major cities of the north,” said HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Simon Kirby.
“That’s why I’m pleased to confirm that we have appointed Arup, Mouchel and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff to help us push forward with the next stage of the detailed design and help prepare the draft legislation we will need to get Birmingham to Crewe open by 2027.”