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Home Secretary Theresa May was at Crewe station on Monday to outline the Government's preferred route for HS2
CREWE will not get a new station along the High Speed Two (HS2) network, but will be served by 225 mph trains via a connection to the existing West Coast Main Line (WCML).
Theresa May visited Crewe Railway Station on Monday afternoon, hours after it was it was announced that the town would also host new depots for infrastructure and maintenance equipment using the western spur of the £32 billion railway, creating more than 300 jobs.
The HS2 line itself splits into a Y shaped network to Manchester and Leeds north of Birmingham, bypassing Crewe in a tunnel under the WCML.
A junction at Basford will enable HS2 trains to continue north through Crewe to serve Liverpool on existing rail lines.
But Cheshire East Council have announced they will campaign for a £200 million Crewe HS2 station to be built in the tunnel directly beneath the existing station.
The Government published its preferred route for HS2 on Monday, January 28.
The current plans would slash journey times between Crewe and London from 1hr 30mins to 58mins.
Chancellor George Osborne said HS2 would be an ‘engine for growth’ in the North and Midlands, creating tens of thousands of jobs across the country.
He acknowledged widespread opposition to the line from communities along its route which face ‘very difficult’ disruption to their lives, but said the economic benefits were ‘pretty compelling’.
Numerous residents associations and wildlife organisations are opposed to the line.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust is worried that ancient woodland and Sites of Specific Scientific Interest would be affected.
Speaking at Crewe station on Monday, Home Secretary Theresa May told the Guardian the line was ‘very good news for Crewe and the northwest in general’ and was necessary to create jobs and alleviate overcrowding on the WCML.
She added: “This is about economic growth and taking key decisions about our infrastructure.
“It would be easy for us to say we’re not going to do anything, but that would be irresponsible.”
“What we’ve put together and what we are progressing will be of benefit to Cewe and the wider area. It will rebalance the economy.
“Crewe has a fine railway heritage. It’s always been an important hub on the railway system.”
When asked about the future possibility for a HS2 hub in Crewe, Ms May said she was under ‘no doubt about the strength of feeling’ in the town for a dedicated HS2 station.
Cheshire East Council Leader, Michael Jones, said the preferred route for HS2 was ‘great news’ for the town, but he would be campaigning for Crewe to get a new station.
On the existing plans, he said: “This is great news for Cheshire East and for Crewe in particular. This decision firmly demonstrates the government’s belief in Crewe and puts the town firmly at the centre of the North West’s growing economy. HS2 consolidates Cheshire East at the most connected area in the UK.”
He added: “It is great news for the 44,000 people who live in Cheshire East and own a business in the area and beyond. It is great news if you are seeking to invest.
“However, as we celebrate the news for Crewe, we should also strive to ensure any disruption is minimised and also that our beautiful land in Cheshire East is protected.
“I will work hard to minimise the impact along the proposed route and ensure that residents, businesses and landowners affected will receive the appropriate compensation in a timely manner. I will also be working hard to ensure that the environmental impact along the new line is minimised.
“I will now continue to lobby hard for a new dedicated HS2 station at Crewe in the tunnel directly under the existing station, creating a fully-integrated hub station between HS2 and the existing Rail network. This solution would provide even greater connectivity for Crewe, Cheshire East and the whole of the North West and North Wales, with a focus on a much wider range of destinations.
“The estimated cost of a hub station at Crewe is £200m. The cost for UK plc of not doing this – as a result of the loss of economic performance and social costs in areas such as North Wales, Stoke and Liverpool – could be as much as £2 billion. I will be developing this argument strongly as part of our process of active lobbying for the new station.
The route and stations:
The railway line will run in a tunnel beneath the path of the WCML through Crewe.
At Walley’s Green, north of Leighton, the line will bear right, bisecting Winsford and Middlewich at Bostock.
It would pass south west around Northwich through Lostock Gralam before splitting into a line serving Manchester and Manchester Airport.
An eastern spur would continue to join the existing main line near Golborne, Leigh, where a second depot for rolling stock maintenance would be built.
There will be five station stops along HS2: In Manchester - alongside the existing Piccadilly station, and at Manchester Airport next to the M56 between Warburton Green and Davenport Green.
In the East Midlands there will be a stop at Toton, between Nottingham and Derby, one mile from the M1.
At Sheffield, there will be a stop at Meadowhall shopping centre. In Leeds there will be a stop at New Lane in the South bank area, connected to the main station by a walkway.
Extending the already-planned London to Birmingham High Speed Two line as far as Manchester and Leeds is designed to cut journey times, ease overcrowding and boost regional business.
225mph passenger trains will halve journey times from Manchester to London.
HS2 will also reduce a Birmingham to Leeds journey from two hours to 57 minutes, while phase one will cut London-Birmingham travel to 49 minutes, from the current one hour and 24 minutes.
For more on HS2’s proposed route, visit www.hs2.org.uk/phase-two/manchester
Crewe double glazing salesman, Barry Evanson, took the opportunity to address Theresa May about matters he felt more pressing than HS2.
The 57-year-old intercepted Ms May on her way to a press conference on platform 6 to tell her the Government had their priorities ‘the wrong way around’ and £32 billion could be ‘better spent’.
“When you think about the state of the roads; of the NHS, I feel in real terms that our standards of living are falling.
“You can see all around us that there are cut backs. We should be investing in other things before this. This railway is not desperate, we don’t need it,” he told Ms May.
He added: “If it creates jobs, then fantastic, but there are things that need doing first. You can’t go leaping ahead on a huge project like this when there are more important things we need to take care of.
Barry said he had only been at Crewe station to pick someone up.
“I thought I needed to take the opportunity to speak to her. She was very polite and answered all my questions,” he said.
Edward Timpson, MP for Crewe and Nantwich said: "HS2 is a vote of confidence in Crewe and Nantwich in so many ways.
"It opens up south Cheshire to international business by providing the extra rail capacity and speed from London that we so badly need. This can only mean more jobs for our residents.
"It is a boost for our rail services industry, who will have access to the line to ply their trade.
"From the passenger's point of view, it will provide comfortable, fast travel to London and Heathrow Airport, freeing up space on the currently overcrowded West Coast Main Line for commuters. Everyone wins.
"But perhaps most of all, it cements our position as the gateway to the North West, not only in terms of geography, but also in terms of transport connectivity. The term 'change at Crewe' has never been more apt."
Pop music mogul and rail enthusiast, Pete Waterman, has been an ardent supporter for the need for high speed rail.
Speaking to The Guardian, he said HS2’s plans for Crewe ‘brought back hope’ for reviving the town’s important historical association with the railways.
“It’s been a long hard slog, but we’ve got there in the end. Now we’ve got to fight to make sure gets a dedicated station along HS2,” he added.
Cheshire East Lib Dem leader, clr Rod Fletcher: “With the increase use of rail in recent years extra capacity is required between the south east and the north of England. the proposal to build a new line to continental gauge via Crewe with the prospect of double decker trains being introduced and with the added bonus of Crewe maintaining the new trains is very welcome.
Dr Adrian Heald, labour candidate for Crewe and Nantwich: “I welcome the announcement of the HS2 route north of Birmingham via Crewe to the Manchester conurbation. We need to see the plans in detail and then lobby for Crewe to be a nodal point for transfers on and off trains going to North Wales, Cheshire, the Peak District and Staffordshire with connectivity to Ireland - in other words for an International Station at Crewe.”
Joe Rukin, Director, Stop HS2 said: “Like the hard working tax payers that live on, and near the route of phase one of HS2, the residents and communities of Cheshire will discover that they face decades of property blight and uncertainty. On the route of phase 1 prospective buyers find it almost impossible to get mortgages; the value of homes drop and families and retirees have had to put their plans on hold.”
Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP for the North West: “The Government may talk about regeneration and the importance of linking cities in order to create jobs outside London, but high speed rail projects elsewhere have shown that in actual fact it simply leads to more people migrating to the capital city to work, rather than vice versa. It will extend the commuter belt to London beyond Birmingham.”
Country Land and Business Association president Harry Cotterell: “The Government has rushed through today’s route announcement before two major consultations on phase one have finished, showing contempt for rural land and business owners.
“The current compulsory purchase system treats landowners badly while helping to deliver profit to commercial operators.”
If you think you're affected by the route:
A spokesman from HS2 Ltd has advised people who think they may be affected by the preferred route to visit www.dft.gov.uk, where detailed maps can be obtained.
People can also call 0207 9444 908 to speak to an advisor.
An exceptional hardship scheme will be launched in spring.
The scheme will offer people needing to move homes because of specific health and work related issues the chance to sell their property at pre HS2 announcement prices to the Government.
The process from here:
There will be a consultation with businesses and stakeholders.
Following this, a full public consultation will be launched.
A final route will be published Environmental impacts will be assessed Final route and cost approved Hybrid bill progress through Parliament and the Lords.