Out-Law News 1 min. read

UK government pushes ahead with HS2 Crewe to Manchester phase

The UK government has pushed ahead with plans for the section of HS2 between Crewe and Manchester, introducing a hybrid bill into parliament that would give ministers the powers needed to construct and operate the rail line.

The government said delivery of the line under the High Speed Rail (Crewe to Manchester) Bill would improve service reliability and deliver shorter journey times for passengers - cutting travel from London to Manchester by about 55 minutes and Birmingham to Manchester by up to 45 minutes.

According to ministers, the extension would double the rail capacity between Manchester and London with new high speed stations and junctions at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.

Robbie Owen

Robbie Owen

Partner, Parliamentary Agent

Ultimately, those affected by the proposals will have the opportunity to present their concerns to a select committee of the House of Commons later in the year.

HS2 Ltd also said it aimed for a 10% net gain in biodiversity for replaceable habitats on the Crewe to Manchester route, delivering more biodiversity than existed before construction began. It comes after the government pledged that HS2 trains will run on zero carbon energy from day one.

Robbie Owen, infrastructure planning expert and ‘Roll A’ parliamentary agent at Pinsent Masons, said: “The bill could well take up to three years to pass through parliament, so it is far from guaranteed that it will have been passed before the next general election, which is scheduled to take place in 2024.”

“Those up and down the route who will be directly and specially affected, including developers, businesses and logistics companies, need to ensure they have a firm understanding of how hybrid bills work and how to effectively engage with the government and HS2 Ltd through the parliamentary process – otherwise they could lose out on their chance to influence the design of HS2 in their locality and have their interests taken into account,” he said.

Owen added: “Ultimately, those affected by the proposals will have the opportunity to present their concerns to a select committee of the House of Commons later in the year. Local authorities and developers may also need to engage with the bill if it is not to hinder the levelling up agenda through preventing or delaying development and regeneration opportunities along the route.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are determined to improve transport connections and level up communities across the country and this bill marks a landmark moment as we bring HS2 to Manchester and lay the foundations for Northern Powerhouse Rail. Our £96 billion investment in rail in the North and Midlands and in connecting them to London will bring communities together, create thousands of jobs and make towns and cities in these key areas more attractive to business up to 10 years quicker than under any previous plans.”

“The Integrated Rail Plan is the blueprint for the government’s commitment to building better transport links, generating prosperity and opportunity across the North and Midlands, bringing benefits up to 10 years sooner than previously planned, all while delivering on levelling up the country,” he added.

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