Andrew Stephenson – 2022 Statement on High Speed Rail from Crewe to Manchester

The statement made by Andrew Stephenson, the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, in the House of Commons on 24 January 2022.

Today the Government will introduce the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill—a key part of building back better after the covid-19 pandemic. Alongside the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill and accompanying Environmental statement, the Government are also publishing:

the Government’s response to the second Design Refinement Consultation; and an update on the Strategic Outline Business Case.

The Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands (IRP) set out the Government’s commitment to invest in rail infrastructure across the North and Midlands. Delivering the Western Leg of HS2 is a vital part of this commitment. This includes plans for the Crewe Hub and Crewe Northern Connection, allowing HS2 trains to call at Crewe and Manchester and enhancing connectivity to north-west England, Wales, and Scotland.

This next stage of HS2 from Crewe to Manchester will increase passenger capacity, improve connectivity, and reduce journey times. It is integral to delivering on the Government’s commitment to level-up the country. HS2 will join up the North, Midlands, and London by effectively halving the journey times between the centres of the UK’s three largest cities. The scheme will contribute towards sustainable growth in towns, cities, and regions across the country, spreading prosperity and opportunity more widely. It will act as a catalyst for job creation, the development of new homes and ultimately, the regeneration of major cities and towns along the HS2 route.

HS2 will help provide a cleaner and greener form of transport, offering significantly lower carbon emissions per passenger kilometre than long distance car journeys or domestic air travel. HS2 has the potential to deliver world-class low-carbon transport to bring our biggest cities closer together, spread opportunity and support the UK’s transition to a ‘net zero’ economy.

The Bill includes the powers necessary to construct and operate the HS2 route between Crewe and Manchester. It is accompanied by an Environmental statement which describes the railway, alternatives considered, the environmental effects that are likely to arise from its construction and operation, and the measures proposed to avoid or reduce the negative effects. It has been informed by the consultation on the working draft Environmental statement held in autumn 2018 as well as through engagement with stakeholders. An equalities impact assessment is also being published.

The Government’s response to the Western Leg Design Refinement Consultation is an important part of introducing this Bill. The October 2020 consultation set out four technical refinements to the Western Leg of Phase 2b: a new Crewe Northern Connection to support the vision for a Crewe Hub; changes to the rolling stock depot at Crewe; expansions to both Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport High Speed stations; and a new train depot at Annandale in Dumfries and Galloway. Having considered the feedback from all the respondents, the Government have decided to confirm these four changes.

The update on the Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) sets out the clear, strategic case for the HS2 Crewe-Manchester scheme, together with up-to-date cost range for the programme of between £15 billion and £22 billion—2019 prices. This SOBC contains the first cost estimate that has been produced specifically for the scheme between Crewe and Manchester. As the project progresses in design maturity, the cost estimate will be further refined and will inform the full business case, which will be presented to Parliament in due course.

Copies of the Government’s response to the second Design Refinement Consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and are also publicly accessible online through the www.gov.uk website.