Stoke starts fight in earnest to change HS2 route

City pitches plan to Government for accelerated stage two which it claims is £2bn cheaper and provides Yorkshire link seven years faster than existing design.

The City of Stoke presented a new HS2 western leg route to Government this morning which it said would cut £2bn off the price and could be built seven years faster than existing proposals.

The new plan would also meet Deighton Review criteria to be of economic benefit for the region and create better city connections across the north the council said.

“The HS2 agenda has changed but the engineers have not changed the route to meet the new economic agenda,” Stoke Council’s executive director of Place John Betty.

Stoke’s claims are based on comparisons with current HS2 accelerated plans to take the new railway as far as Crewe by 2026 and then on Network Rail lines to Manchester in 1 hour 34 minutes at a cost of £5.4bn. The council said its plan to take the route via Stoke’s city centre station would allow HS2 trains to provide a direct 1hour 20 minute service to Manchester by 2026 at a cost of £3.4bn.

The Crewe scheme requires demolition and relocation of the station and junction rebuilding work on the West Coast Main Line whereas going via Crewe junctions “already face in the right direction” and the broad rail corridor to the city would allow HS2 to be built largely off line. 80% of the route could be built through urban brownfield corridor adjacent to existing railway.

Crucially, the council believes, the Stoke option would allow a link to West Yorkshire and Leeds via Stockport, also by 2026, seven years ahead of current plans.

In terms of economic benefit “only the Stoke route pulls together a Manchester and Midlands "super charged economic growth corridor"  by placing a major urban area at its heart and creates east-west linkages across Englands’s Greater North. 

It also adds the 470,000 people of ‘Greater Stoke’ to the HS2 business case, a population seven times that of Crewe’s 70,000. However the Stoke route does not bypass Crewe but includes it in the plans

Cost comparisons for a full high speed route to Manchester in 2033 are £7.1bn via Stoke and £8.4bn via Crewe, according to the council report.

The Stoke case does have a political one. Neighbouring Staffordshire County Council is currently opposed to HS2.


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