The Department for Transport said that the nine-week safeguarding consultation would pave the way for the protection of this corridor for future HS2 construction, even though a final decision has yet to be made on the route of HS2 Phase Two.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “The evidence so far indicates that routing HS2 to Manchester via Crewe would be the right strategic option. This is still to be confirmed, but undertaking this consultation will allow us to deliver our plans more quickly once a decision is made.”
Should a decision be taken to safeguard land following this consultation, safeguarding directions are expected to be published in spring 2015. People who own or occupy land affected will then have the right to ask the government to buy their property.
In March 2014, Sir David Higgins’ HS2 Plus report identified that the benefits of high speed rail could reach the north sooner if Phase Two of the railway were accelerated and the line was extended to a new regional transport hub at Crewe by 2027, 6 years earlier than planned.
Further analysis has suggested that a route via Crewe has lower costs and higher benefits than other options, including good connectivity to North Wales, the Midlands, the north and Scotland.
HS2 Ltd is continuing its analysis of options and how the benefits of HS2 can be spread as widely as possible. This more in depth analysis will inform the decision on the whole of the Phase Two route, the Department for Transport said. A decision on the final Phase Two route is expected in 2015.