Plans to Close Crewe Station?
In January 2013 the Conservative Leader of Cheshire East Council said, “I will now continue to lobby hard for a new dedicated HS2 station at Crewe in the tunnel directly underneath the existing station…”
In January 2014 a Cheshire East Council report advocates “A new station and track layout for Crewe to be delivered by Network Rail by 2020 to accommodate an HS2 stop”.
Most people, not knowing the ways of Cheshire East Conservatives, would assume that the 2014 plans were for a new HS2 station at Crewe in the tunnel directly underneath the existing station, but after a lot of investigating it can now be revealed that the new station being proposed in 2014 is likely to be at Basford, nearly 2 miles to the south of the existing station.
This new proposal raises several concerns which were pursued by Labour councillors at the recent cabinet meeting. If there is to be a new station what will happen to the existing one? Councillor Jones said that, "Crewe station will not be closed". To Labour suggestions that some direct commuter trains would be at risk, even closed, Councillor Jones replied that, "no routes are at risk. The Crewe - Stoke -Derby line will be improved as a result of the plans". When pressed to be specific about where in Basford the station would be sited, Councillor Jones replied that, "the location of the new station has not yet been agreed".
Councillor Jones also asserted that the businesses of Crewe supported the plans for a new HS2 station. Quite so, but at which location? When were they consulted about the new proposals? He also claimed that the people of Crewe supported them. But the people of Crewehave not been consulted on this proposal so how does he know?
Cheshire East Labour Group Leader, Councillor David Newton commented “I am astounded that staff at the HS2 consultation event inCrewe were aware of the proposal yet none of the hundreds of people who attended were told about it. Only the HS2 plan published in the spring, which makes use of the existing station, was displayed”. The plans, which could result in the closure of Crewe station, have come from the “Cheshire & Warrington Local Transport Body” which has taken over local transport strategy from the elected council. This body is chaired by Leader of Cheshire East Council, Cllr Michael Jones, and has only four voting members, one councillor each from Cheshire East, Chester West & Chester and Warrington plus Pete Waterman, a steam railway enthusiast. It is not answerable to local taxpayers and confirmed its support for the plan on December 16th, 2013. Councillor Newton said “We believe the whole idea has been to submit this plan through the HS2 Consultation process and have it adopted as a local suggestion to avoid the need for further consultation with local residents. The managers at the HS2 Event held in Crewe were unaware that it had not been discussed locally.”
Cllr Kevin Hickson, Labour Leader of Crewe Town Council said, “This proposal is disgraceful. It would decimate the Crewe economy, and disadvantage commuters who use Crewe Station. I call on Cllr Michael Jones to answer unambiguously the question, will the existingCrewe station continue to be used as a railway station where passengers can board trains direct to many destinations as they do now, yes or no?”
Labour councillors have welcomed, and support, HS2, the proposed route via Crewe, and the moves to make Crewe a hub station. However, we have legitimate concerns about the nature of the new proposal and we will continue to raise them and seek answers.