Council welcomes letter seeking clarity on key HS2 infrastructure investments

6 July 2022

Cheshire East Council says the delivery of a HS2 ‘super hub’ in Crewe is ‘an opportunity for the government to send a signal to the North about what levelling up actually means’.

It comes following a meeting of the board of Transport for the North (TfN) on Thursday 30 June, where members agreed to write to the Secretary of State seeking clarity on a series of key infrastructure investments that were due to be delivered in the North of England as part of HS2.

Board member Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its highways and transport committee, spoke during the meeting and has welcomed the decision.

But he said the council believes the wording of the letter in relation to the Crewe Hub ‘both could and should be strengthened’. 

Cllr Craig Browne  Alderley Edge“The council has long recognised the wider economic and regeneration potential that the arrival of HS2 can unlock for Crewe and the wider borough, including jobs and increased business confidence to invest,” he said.

“It can also help to address serious capacity issues on our local rail network, thereby enabling improved passenger services and moving more freight from road to rail.

“But this support has always been conditional on the delivery of an enhanced HS2 hub station for Crewe to support the right level of connectivity and facilitate 5/7 trains per hour stopping at Crewe.

“It is also conditional on securing improved mitigation against the negative impacts of the scheme on the environment, landscape, ecology and local transport network, particularly in the north of the borough.

“This includes compensation for those impacted by the HS2 line between Crewe and Manchester.”

Cllr Browne added: “Crewe will not only be the first stopping point for HS2 in the North, but it will also be the only stopping point in the North for a decade.“This is therefore an opportunity for the government to send a signal to the North about what levelling up actually means. 

“While we support the inclusion of the Crewe North Connection in the HS2 Phase 2b Hybrid Bill – a significant milestone in securing the council’s shared vision for an enhanced Crewe hub station – we still await a commitment to deliver the investment needed in the hub station to receive 5/7 trains per hour and ensure the benefits of the Crewe North Connection can be realised as early as possible.

“Anything less than this is not levelling up, but rather levelling off, because this is actually about far more than just transport. 

“It is about giving businesses the confidence to make investment decisions and these decisions will be very different if they are based on an assumption of 5/7 trains per hour, compared to just two trains per hour as we are now hearing from some quarters.”

Cheshire East Council is currently developing a written petition against the HS2 Phase 2b Hybrid Bill, which had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 20 June and seeks the powers to construct and operate Phase 2b of HS2 (Crewe to Manchester) – expected to open between 2035 and 2040. 

The petitioning period ends at 5pm on 4 August and select committee hearings – where the petitions will be heard – will be held at a later date.