Although decisions remain to be taken about the location of a station for Sheffield, most of the route is now confirmed.
The government originally set out plans for HS2 phase two in 2013. Since then it was decided to develop phase two in two stages: Phase 2a – from the West Midlands to Crewe that was announced last year; and Phase 2b – from Crewe to Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds, South Yorkshire and the East Midlands.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has today published a command paper: High Speed Two: From Crewe to Manchester, the West Midlands to Leeds and Beyond, setting out the route in detail.
On the western leg, HS2 will:
- continue north from Crewe to Manchester Airport
- from Manchester Airport it will continue on to Manchester city centre, where a new HS2 station will be built next to Manchester Piccadilly
- there will also be a connection to Liverpool and to the existing West Coast main line allowing HS2 services to continue north, serving stations to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
On the eastern leg, HS2 will:
- continue from the West Midlands to Toton in the East Midlands, where a new HS2 station will be built to serve Nottingham and Derby;
- from the East Midlands the HS2 route will continue north to South Yorkshire
- at Sheffield there will be a connection to the existing city station with the main route be moved further east – subject to consultation, as it would involve demolishing a housing estate that is still being built
- from South Yorkshire, HS2 will continue to Leeds where a new HS2 station will be built in Leeds city centre, adjacent to the existing station
- HS2 will also have a connection onto the East Coast Main Line, enabling HS2 to serve York, Newcastle and other places in the North East.
There are seven refinements on which the Department for Transport is consulting. These are, on the western leg:
- to move the previously proposed rolling stock depot at Golborne to a site north of Crewe
- to move the approach to Manchester Piccadilly up to 370 metres eastwards with the northern tunnel portal in Ardwick, to avoid direct impacts on residential properties and a school at West Gorton
- to move the route in the Middlewich - Northwich area in Cheshire up to 800 metres westwards.
On the eastern leg:
- to move the route to the east of Measham in Leicestershire, avoiding the most significant impacts on local manufacturing businesses and development sites
- to go around instead of tunnel under East Midlands Airport
- to amend the alignment of the preferred route as it passes through Long Eaton to reduce severance in the local community and reduce impacts on the highway network and existing rail infrastructure
- to move the alignment of the route from Derbyshire to West Yorkshire to reflect a change in the proposals for serving the Sheffield city region, as recommended by Sir David Higgins in his report Sheffield and South Yorkshire, published in July 2016.
The Department for Transport has now issued safeguarding directions for the preferred phase 2b route, which protects the preferred route from conflicting development and also means that those people who are most affected can now apply to the government to buy their home.
Main construction work on HS2 phase one (London-Birmingham) is set to start in 2017.
The government intends to deposit a hybrid bill for phase 2a by the end of 2017 and for phase 2b by the end of 2019.
Its timetable envisages phase one opening in 2026, phase 2a in 2027, and the full HS2 scheme in 2033.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: "Our railways owe much to the Victorian engineers who pioneered them, but we cannot rest on their legacy when we face overcrowding and capacity problems. HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century; one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business.
"The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory. But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with phase one, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law."
Not everyone is happy that the route has been safeguarded without further consultation, however. French bank BNP Paribas said that landowners promoting new developments along the HS2’s northern route now faced losing out on compensation payments.
Chris Selway, head of the national infrastructure and compulsory purchase team at BNP Paribas Real Estate, said: “Now safeguarding is in place, HS2 has effectively become part of planning policy. This will lead to new developments being refused that could otherwise have been granted, effectively reducing the compensation payable to those who had development or redevelopment plans in preparation long before HS2 came along. It even affects applications already lodged but not determined. The costs those claimants have borne will be largely abortive. Safeguarding without consultation just looks like an underhand way to save time and costs at the expense of the business and commercial claimants who will be clobbered by the scheme.”