UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed plans to extend Britain’s HS2 high speed rail lines from Birmingham to the North-West, East Midlands and Yorkshire.
The decision will mean new connections between Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands – with all of them being linked to London by HS2.
“It is set to bring a massive economic boost for the north and the Midlands by increasing productivity and creating new business opportunities,” said the UK Department for Transport.
“And the new line will free up thousands of extra seats and additional services on local lines.
“New research shows the impact of HS2 could more than double rush hour seats from Manchester Piccadilly towards Stoke and Crewe; and from Leeds towards Wakefield.
“It could also almost double peak seats from London to Peterborough and east coast destinations further north.
“Today’s announcement will mean journeys from Birmingham to Manchester in 40 minutes – a trip that takes more than 80 minutes on services currently.”
The Department for Transport said that by providing new routes for intercity services, HS2 will free-up space on existing railways for new commuter, regional and freight services, taking lorries off the roads.
Grayling said: “Britain’s new railway line will bring huge economic benefits across the country and help ensure this government delivers on its promise to spread wealth beyond London and the south-east.
“But as well as creating skilled jobs, apprenticeships and business opportunities, it will also mean real day-to-day improvements for people across the country.
“By building a whole new railway line for high-speed intercity connections, we will free up local services, meaning more comfort, more seats and more trains for passengers across the north and the midlands.
“We will now press ahead with building the line, while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.”
David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 said: “Today we have taken a huge step forward in connecting eight of our largest cities, freeing up space on our railways and building a catalyst for growth across the country.
“Once completed 30 million people will be served by HS2 across over 25 stations, helping to change the economic geography of the country, and bring prosperity to the midlands, the north, and beyond.”
Today’s announcements confirmed the new route for the eastern section and plans to serve the station in Sheffield city centre.
“The government has also asked HS2 Ltd to take forward the provision of a northern junction back on to HS2, which would support delivery of a city-centre to city-centre connection between Leeds-Sheffield in less than 30 minutes as part of Northern Powerhouse Rail,” said the Department for Transport.
The UK government said it remains on track to open the HS2 link from London to Birmingham in 2026, the route to Crewe in 2027 and the routes to the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Manchester in 2033.