high speed train HS2 - phase 2b

High-speed rail could cause yet more disruption in Cheshire after the Government announced plans for extra infrastructure to be built, writes Stephen Topping.

Residents are being asked for views on the latest plans for HS2 Phase 2b, between Crewe and Manchester.

The Government is now linking Phase 2b to Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) – the name given to future west-east high-speed rail links across the north, previously nicknamed ‘HS3’ and ‘Crossrail for the north’.

New plans include two new junctions in High Legh, which would allow HS2 services to run on NPR lines and vice versa.

Also in the pipeline is a temporary “railhead” depot to support HS2’s construction, and a permanent depot for HS2 maintenance, both near Ashley.

In the plans, which have gone out for consultation, Chris Grayling MP, transport secretary, said: “The proposed changes to the HS2 route are intended to make it more efficient, cost-effective and to minimise disruption for residents and impacts on the environment.

“Engagement with affected communities is at the heart of our plans, so it is only right that we once again seek the views of those who will be affected.

“Your response to this consultation will be central to the design of the railway as it develops.

“HS2 will be transformational. It will increase capacity on our congested railways and improve connections between our biggest cities.

“It will support our industrial strategy, create jobs and is critical to this Government’s plans to rebalance our economy. It provides the foundations on which NPR can build.”

According to the Government, the new junctions in High Legh will be built to ensure “minimum disruption” will be made to the operation of HS2 while NPR lines are built in Cheshire.

One junction will carry NPR services between Manchester and Liverpool via Warrington on HS2 lines, while another will allow London to Liverpool services to run on NPR lines.

But the Government admits the changes would have a greater visual impact on the area than current plans, while construction would also become more obtrusive.

Cllr Kate Parkinson, Conservative Cheshire East Council member for High Legh, said: “I have witnessed the distress and opposition that proposed HS2 infrastructure development is causing to residents and businesses.

“The fact the Government now requires additional greenbelt land which encapsulates High Legh for two extra junctions will cause more upset in my ward.”

Meanwhile, the Government says a site close to Ashley is ideally located as a “railhead” construction site to support the building of HS2 Phase 2b – while a permanent depot for HS2 maintenance could also be built close-by.

Graham Dellow, chairman of Mid Cheshire Against HS2, has long campaigned against the project’s arrival in the county – and he believes the plans for Ashley and High Legh would be “absolutely disastrous” for the area.

He said: “What is going on up there is far, far bigger than we ever imagined and my view is that it is going to cause one heck of a stink.

“What they are trying to do is add value to HS2 by linking it with NPR and saying neither one is any good without the other.

“There is support for NPR, people can see the benefits to it, and now they are saying you can’t have NPR without HS2.

“They are making it look like we will get more for our money but what they have not told us is the amount it will cost for the new depot and junctions.

“This is adding to the disaster of HS2.

“They have talked about making a few tweaks to the route, but this is far more than a tweak – what they are doing here is just diabolical quite honestly.”

But business leaders have welcomed the move.

Damian Waters, north west regional director at the Confederation of British Industry, described the changes as a “massive opportunity for the north and one we must grasp with both hands”.

He said: “Linking up HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse will unlock a series of connections knitting together Manchester, Liverpool and London to a high quality transport network fit for the 21st century.

“Behind these maps and documents is the chance to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and bring new opportunities to our communities.

“The stark reality is that no other scheme or investment can deliver the jobs, growth or regeneration benefits of HS2.

“If we are to regenerate our local economies, we must move forward with both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

HS2 Ltd is holding consultation events to discuss the plans at Mere Court Hotel, in High Legh, from 2pm to 8pm on June 26, and at St Peter’s Assembly Rooms, in Hale, from 2pm to 8pm on July 12.

Residents can submit their comments on the proposals until September 6.

For more information call HS2 Ltd on 08081 434434 or email [email protected]

To see the consultation documents in full, visit https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/806982/hs2-phase-2b-design-refinement-web.pdf

One Comment

  1. If residents or others think that ‘submitting their comments’ to HS2 on the new proposals will achieve anything, think again. HS2 does not respect or may any heed to residents comments.
    HS2 has shown in Colne Valley, Hillingdon and Wendover, Buckinghamshire that ‘engagement’ with Councils and communities means nothing to them.
    HS2 is effectively self regulating and it’s up coming review is being done ‘in house’ by it’s own Chair who claims a massive salary.
    good luck up North – HS2 Cometh to destroy you.

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