The High Speed Rail (Crewe to Manchester) Bill, published today, paves the way for the next 52-mile phase of HS2.
Assuming the bill gets through parliament with no substantial amendments, and assuming a future government still wants to spend money on it, the eastern leg of HS2 phase 2b will cut travel from London to Manchester by around 55 minutes and Birmingham to Manchester by up to 45 minutes.
The bill will also allow for a new high speed stations and junctions to be built at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
Plans for an eastern leg of phase 2b – Birmingham to Leeds – were scrapped by the government last year. The Manchester leg is still going ahead, despite HS2 Ltd admitting that “there is not yet a confirmed budget for this phase”.
Phase 1, London to Birmingham, is budgeted at £44.6bn (2019 prices), including a new Eustion station and a ‘contingency’ of £9.6bn. This is now under construction
Phase 2a is a £5.2bn to £7.2bn spur between Fradley in the West Midlands to Crewe in Cheshire. Royal Assent was granted for this section in February 2021.
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.”