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West Midlands – Crewe: the key choices

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The Government decision in October 2023 to scrap the section of HS2 between the West Midlands and Crewe (Phase 2a), ended a 15-year period of cross-party consensus on the project, and drove a coach and horses through the rail sector’s long-term plans.

A situation has been created where trains for the North and Scotland, after travelling over what’s left of HS2 will need to join today’s rail network at the weakest point on the West Coast Main Line, where the four-track railway narrows down to just two tracks for a few miles. A better definition of a transport bottleneck would be hard to find. The West Coast is Europe’s busiest mixed use main line.

In this short report we look at the aftermath of the Government’s troubling decision to curtail HS2 in this way and explore the choices available to solve the problem.

We find that in the past plenty of options have been considered before it became clear that the chosen Phase 2a scheme was the best available.

Other options certainly exist. But while there are several reviews now underway, no other solution to the capacity crunch will be deliverable as speedily as the HS2 Phase 2a scheme, which remains ‘ready to go’. We are left asking this: why delay the task of maximising rail’s contribution to regional economic growth and tackling climate change?

You can read the short report here: GG21 West Midlands – Crewe the key choices

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