HS2 Consultation Response
The Labour Group on Cheshire East Council welcomes the proposals for the HS2 line to pass through Crewe and for all HS2 trains travelling to/from Liverpool to stop at Crewe. This will provide important connectivity via the existing rail network.
The Labour Group notes that the plans for HS2 have never been debated or voted on at a full Cheshire East Council meeting. The only discussion over the formal consultation has been at a Cabinet meeting when the consultation response was not available. At that meeting authority it was decided by the Cabinet to delegate authority to complete and submit a response. In these circumstances it is very difficult to comment on the Cheshire East Council consultation response.
The Labour Group on Cheshire East Council supports in principle a full HS2 hub station in Crewe. However, there are great concerns over the specific proposal being put forward by Cheshire East Council and the Cheshire and Warrington Local Transport Body. Many of these concerns centre around the lack of consultation on this proposal and the absence of detailed analysis and business case documents that underpin the thinking behind the proposal. It is unclear what the impact would be on the existing Crewe station and on existing local routes.
Crewe’s importance as a railway town depends on a workforce experienced in making and maintaining trains and by the fact that it is a 6-way junction for routes from N Wales, S Wales, Stoke and Manchester as well as the direct North-South route to Liverpool andBirmingham. The government plans include a maintenance site at Basford and preserve the 6-way junction. Any revised plans must also preserve the 6 way connectivity at Crewe and a maintenance site.
Maintaining existing services and connectivity at Crewe is important for other areas of Cheshire as well as Crewe. For example, it is currently possible to travel by train from Macclesfield to London in under 2 hours. We need to maintain that level of service at least. Travelling from Macclesfield to Crewe then picking up HS2 is unlikely to be quicker as it will involve at least one change.
The construction of HS2 should start simultaneously at Manchester and London. This would speed up construction and prevent a 20 year blight on land earmarked for HS2 in Cheshire.
Consideration should be given to including an additional HS2 junction to the north of Crewe to provide a loop. This will provide flexibility in case of accidents, so that trains could turn round at Crewe. It would also means that more trains could stop at Crewe if HS2 is later extended.