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New report from Sir David Higgins proposes to reach North West England in Phase 1

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There may be a year’s difference in completion dates, but the ambition to press on and build HS2 as far as Crewe where a new hub station would be built shows real drive and ambition. “Greengauge 21 totally supports this approach”, said Jim Steer, Director Greengauge 21.

In an interesting development, the new report also opens up the prospect of PPP-style funding arrangements as used successfully in France for the TGV line now under construction between Tours and Bordeaux.

And journey times between Leeds and Manchester could be cut in almost half, which Sir David Higgins, Chairman of High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd says, would be “as important to the North as Crossrail is for London” if ideas for new links across the Pennines are taken up.

“The report is also sensitive to the needs of places beyond the HS2 headline destinations”, says Jim Steer, noting the importance placed on better connectivity for Bradford as well as Leeds as one example. “Another is Stoke-on-Trent, where the report reflects an earlier Greengauge 21 report which called for a Stoke-on-Trent HS2 service to be added to the timetable plans. This is welcome flexibility of thinking and more will be needed if best value is to be derived from Phase 2 – as stakeholders indicated in their consultation responses earlier this year”, he added.

Also welcome is the reference to the Anglo-Scottish dimension and the promise of further news on the study on extending high-speed rail further north.

But the central message is that HS2 cannot be regarded as just a project but needs to stimulate a much wider strategy. Jim Steer emphasized: “From here, there needs to be a clear timetable set out for resolving the key issues that Sir David Higgins highlights in his new report – not least the station locations on the eastern leg of the Y and how new east-west links across the North are integrated with HS2.”

The earlier Greengauge 21 report which called for a Stoke-on-Trent HS2 service to be added to the timetable plans can be found here.

Greengauge 21’s summary assessment of the HS2 phase 2 consultation can be found here