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HS2 to Crewe to open six years ahead of schedule

HS2

Staffordshire County Council today vowed to secure the best deal for the county as the HS2 route to Crewe is confirmed by Chancellor George Osborne and will be delivered six years ahead of schedule.

The Chancellor announced that Phase 2a of the project will not only go to Crewe but will be delivered in 2027 instead of 2033.

There has been a vociferous campaign against HS2 in Staffordshire, with Stone MP Bill Cash setting out his objections at a public meeting in the town in 2013. You can see a video of his speech HERE. The HS2 route near Stone roughly follows the M6 and passes near Walton, Darlaston and Swynnerton, skirting round Swynnerton Park on its way north.

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for economy, environment and transport, said: “This next phase to Crewe will cut through a further 33 miles of Staffordshire countryside and today’s news will undoubtedly be a bitter blow to those communities lying along its route. However, now the route is confirmed it brings to an end almost two years of uncertainty and allows us to focus more sharply on getting the best deal for Staffordshire and our communities every single mile of the line.”

The county council says its key objectives are:

  • Achieving meaningful compensation for residents affected by the scheme
  • Mitigating the impact on communities and the environment – especially plans to raise the route in some areas (TBC)
  • Improving rail connectivity through running classic compatible service from the West Coast Main Line via the Handsacre link
  • Securing Staffordshire’s share of the economic benefits of HS2

Cllr Winnington added: “We have already achieved substantial mitigation in Phase One, notably the lowering of 8km of the route at Lichfield, and we will bring this experience and expertise to champion the cause of Staffordshire in Phase 2a. Over the coming months we will continue to work with our partners in Cheshire East, Stoke-on-Trent and affected boroughs and district councils, and with HS2 Ltd and Government, to ensure Staffordshire’s voice continues to be heard loud and clear.”

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership today said it is committed to maximising the benefits to our area from HS2.

LEP chairman David Frost CBE welcomed the Government’s decision, which he said provided clarity and gave the LEP a firm foundation on which to work with businesses to build economic growth and bring more and better jobs to our region.

Mr Frost said HS2 could be a catalyst to improve local and regional rail connectivity, by exploiting the extra capacity released on existing lines by the building of the high-speed service. It could also bring faster services on the existing network by using ‘classic compatible’ high-speed trains. In particular, he said that confirmation of the Handsacre link between HS2 and the West Coast Main Line would help safeguard services to Stafford and the south of the county.

The Chancellor also announced that former CBI chief John Cridland is to become the first chair of Transport for North, with a remit to improve connections across the region. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is set to outline to Parliament further details of the route for Phase 2a of the project, to Crewe and beyond.

“Bringing forward this part of the HS2 route by six years is a massive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse where high-speed rail will play a big role in connecting up the entire region with the rest of the country,” the Chancellor said. 

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