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HS2 routes for phase 2 confirmed

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The routes for Phase 2 of High Speed 2 (HS2) between Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands have been confirmed by the government

In November last year, the government confirmed the majority of the Phase 2b route from Crewe to Manchester in the West, and from Birmingham to Leeds in the East, with junctions to the existing network.

At the same time a consultation was also launched on seven route refinements. According to the AJ’s sister publication New Civil Engineer, the government has now clarified six of the seven remaining sections, which together with the previous announcement, will form basis for the Phase 2b Hybrid Bill.

One of the most controversial of the decisions made by the government is the route from Derbyshire to West Yorkshire, the so called M18 / Eastern route.

The original 2013 route took introduced a new station on the HS2 main line close to the Meadowhall retail complex, to the north east of Sheffield. However, the decision has now been taken to move the main north-south alignment around 70km to the east, building a 9.4 km spur to connect HS2 trains into Sheffield city centre – providing a saving of around £1billion.

Speaking at a Commons transport select committee meeting in December last year, HS2 Ltd chairman David Higgins said that Sheffield had been, ‘without a doubt, the hardest of any solution’.

He explained that Sheffield City Council and the city’s chamber of commerce were strongly opposed to the Meadowhall route, preferring a city centre connection. He also said that there were strong objections to the size of the station to be built at the shopping centre hub.

However, in February this year, MP for Doncaster North Ed Miliband called the saving ‘simply illusory’.

The government’s decision on the route through South Yorkshire effectively rubberstamps contentious plans, which were first announced last year (see AJ 07.07.16), to flatten 16 homes on the Shimmer Estate in Mexborough.

Hs2 phase 2 route

Hs2 phase 2 route

Other confirmations yesterday (18 July), included changing the alignment over a 26km length of route in the Middlewich-Northwich area of Cheshire. Questions were raised over this section of the route as it passes through the through the Cheshire salt caverns with fears the complex ground conditions could increase the construction cost of a new viaduct.

Also announced was the changing of the route near East Midlands Airport. The rail link will now follow the eastern side of the A42 more closely to the west of Kegworth in a 12m deep cutting. This will avoid a tunnel under the airport, which was considered too risky, and a crossing over the A42 it said.

Despite the route being lengthened by 1.3km, and trains having to travel at a lower speed (275kph), it said the overall journey time would only increase by around 55 seconds.

However the government has also opted against a proposed change of the 2013 route at Measham, Leicestershire, which would have seen the alignment move to the east of Measham, away from the A42.

Three areas are still being consulted on including a moving the eastern leg rolling stock depot and creating a Crewe hub. The third to be consulted on is the scope and methodology for the Phase 2b Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA) as to how the Hybrid Bill will be carried out.

The hybrid Bill for Phase 2b is planned to be deposited in Parliament in 2019 so that it can open in 2033.

HS2 Phase 2 timeline

  • Today – 2018: Design development and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
  • 2018: Expected consultation on working draft EIA, EqIA and potential Route Refinements
  • 2019: Phase 2b hybrid Bill deposit
  • 2022: Royal Assent
  • 2023: Construction begins
  • 2033: Operations begin

Summary of the confirmed route changes:

Relocating the Western Leg Rolling Stock Depot (RSD) – moving the RSD from a site near Golborne to a site north of Crewe between the A530 Nantwich Road and the West Coast Main Line (WCML) near Wimboldsley

Changing the alignment over a 26km length of route in the Middlewich-Northwich area of Cheshire, raising the route as it passes through the Cheshire salt caverns to avoid brining and gas storage infrastructure

Changing the alignment of the route on the approach to Manchester Piccadilly station to improve the operational efficiency of the station and avoid direct residential impacts and a primary school

Changing the route near East Midlands Airport, so the route follows the eastern side of the A42 more closely, avoids a tunnel under the airport, does not cross the A42, and reduces the impacts on some communities

Locating the route through Long Eaton on a high level viaduct through the town immediately adjacent to the existing low-level rail corridor

The re-alignment of the route between Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. The route in South Yorkshire will be the route consulted in 2016 which in part follows the M1 and M18, serves Sheffield City Centre via a spur from the HS2 line and includes provision for a northern junction allowing trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds city centres using HS2

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