Andrew Stephenson – 2022 Statement on HS2 Phase 2b Western Leg: Crewe to Manchester

The statement made by Andrew Stephenson, the Minister of State at the Department for Transport, in the House of Commons on 20 June 2022.

As set out in a written ministerial statement to Parliament on 6 June 2022, the Government are today publishing a supplement to the January 2022 update to the High Speed 2 (HS2) Crewe – Manchester Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC). This supplement to the SOBC sets out the implications of removing the Golborne Link from the High Speed (Crewe – Manchester) Bill scheme.

The January 2022 update to the SOBC set out the importance of the proposed scheme in linking Manchester to the high-speed network, reducing journey times between the UK’s biggest economic regions—the south-east, midlands, and north-west—and generating much needed passenger and network capacity on the West Coast Mainline (WCML), the UK’s busiest mixed rail use corridor. It also outlined the scheme’s central role in rebalancing the UK economy by providing the platform for economic growth and regeneration in Manchester and the North West, and its importance as the strategic enabler for Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and the wider Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands (IRP).

This scheme also included the Golborne Link, a proposed connection from the HS2 network near Hoo Green to the WCML just south of Wigan, aimed at increasing the number of HS2 services between England and Scotland.

As announced on 6 June 2022, subject to the will of Parliament, the Government no longer intend to seek powers to construct the Golborne Link as part of this Bill. As Sir Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review made clear the Golborne link might not resolve all the rail capacity constraints on the West Coast Mainline between Crewe and Preston. The Government will therefore take time to consider alternatives which deliver similar benefits to Scotland as the Golborne link, so long as these deliver for the taxpayer within the £96 billion envelope allocated for the Integrated Rail Plan, and to understand the deliverability of the alternatives.

HS2 is an essential factor in achieving the transformative impact of the Government’s £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan, connecting our major cities, including connections between the North and Midlands. With other elements of the IRP, it will encourage businesses to invest beyond London while retaining ready access to the capital. It will make it easier for people to find high-wage, high-skilled jobs without having to travel south. This will help drive productivity and growth, benefiting the whole country.

A copy of the supplement to the Strategic Outline Business Case will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and made publicly accessible online.