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Old 30th Jun 2020, 07:40
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HS2 money-saving plan to run trains across Pennines

HS2 trains would link east and west across northern England under proposals for a fully integrated high-speed rail network.

New plans have been submitted to a government-backed review that envisage running HS2 services through a tunnel under Manchester before crossing the Pennines to Bradford, Leeds, York and Newcastle. It would combine the plans for HS2 with the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail project, which is designed to improve intercity connections across the Pennines.

It could cut billions off the cost of HS2 by allowing the government to cancel or defer the eastern leg of the north-south line between Birmingham, the East Midlands and Leeds in favour of upgrading existing rail lines.......

Under present plans, HS2 will create a Y-shaped network linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It is due for completion by 2040, seven years later than first intended. Northern Powerhouse Rail, sometimes called “HS3” or “Crossrail for the north”, will cost an estimated 39 billion and is due to link Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle with upgrades of existing railways as well as new lines.

The prime minister commissioned a review of both projects as part of a new “High Speed North” scheme that is being led by the National Infrastructure Commission. The architects Weston Williamson and Partners, which have worked on the Crossrail line through London, submitted plans to the review yesterday, urging the government to integrate both lines.

The proposal, drawn up with the engineering consultants Expedition, would involve scrapping plans to terminate HS2 trains at Manchester Piccadilly station.

HS2 is planning to tunnel into Manchester before building a high-speed rail terminus on the east side of Piccadilly station at ground level. Under the new plan, trains would run through HS2 tunnels into central Manchester but the high-speed station would be built beneath Piccadilly. It would be designed as a “through station”, with trains running on from the south to the northeast towards Bradford and Leeds. A new station could also be built close to junction 20 of the M62 to serve Rochdale and Oldham, regenerating the towns.

Building HS2 across the Pennines would give the government the option of scrapping the eastern leg of HS2 intended to run north of Birmingham via the East Midlands and Sheffield to Leeds, potentially saving billions. Instead the government could simply upgrade existing railway lines.

The group behind the new plan said: “A significant and widely acknowledged weakness of existing plans is that Manchester Piccadilly station would remain a terminus station for both HS2 and [Northern Powerhouse Rail] train services. This has the disadvantage of significantly slowing down journeys across Manchester.”

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