Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig have been backed by the leading businesses in the North of England in their call for UK Government to deliver “the optimal form of high-speed rail to Manchester” with a new underground Northern Powerhouse Rail-HS2 through station at Piccadilly.
Burnham and Craig – Greater Manchester lead for Economy, Business and Inclusive Growth – met the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) in Manchester on Monday to discuss the importance of an underground through station.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) said the underground link would “determine connectivity and capacity levels not just for the North, but all the UK, for the next century.”
The Northern Powerhouse Partnership — made up of the North’s leading businesses from a range of industries including energy, construction and financial services — has given its support for the proposals for an underground through station, which will be heard by a Bill Select Committee in the UK Parliament from June 12.
“With HS2 linking the country’s major economic areas of London, West Midlands and Greater Manchester, NPP agree with Mayor Burnham and Cllr Craig that seamless onward connections to the rest of the North via an underground through-station at Manchester Piccadilly is essential if it is to deliver transformational connectivity north-south and east-west, and the essential infrastructure to unlock economic growth for generations to come,” said the GMCA.
“However, the Government’s current proposals for the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) HS2 station at Manchester Piccadilly to be a turnback station built on the surface places an unnecessary limit on its ability to accommodate more trains once NPR and HS2 services are running in the future.
“An underground NPR-HS2 station provides a unique opportunity to transform the Piccadilly area and maximise regeneration, supporting 14,000 jobs, new housing and delivering £333 million a year more in benefits by 2050 to the local economy than the overground proposal.
“The NPP join the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Greater Manchester’s Federation of Small Businesses in backing an underground Piccadilly station – with a consensus that Britain’s economic ambitions will pay the price otherwise.
“Just as the Northern end of HS2 has significant room for improvement, there are concerns that the route might terminate at Old Oak Common rather than carry on into the centre of the capital at Euston, requiring passengers to travel half an hour along the Elizabeth Line to connect between central Manchester and central London.”
Burnham said: “In HS2 we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver something truly transformational for Greater Manchester, the North and the whole of the country that will improve the lives of generations to come.
“But in its current form, HS2 does not do that. In order to truly maximise the benefits of high-speed rail between London and Manchester and future Northern Powerhouse Rail services, a through-station that unlocks seamless onward connections to the rest of the North at Manchester Piccadilly simply has to happen, and it needs to be connected directly to London Euston, not six miles out of the city.
“Government’s current proposals for a turnback station on the surface will slow travel down and limit our ability to grow services in the future to support the greater connectivity and economic benefits HS2 should open up.
“Decisions made on HS2 now are absolutely vital to the future. I’m delighted, but unsurprised, that we can add the support of the North’s leading businesses in the form of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, to the list of those backing an underground station at Piccadilly.
“Next week Greater Manchester will make this case strongly in Parliament, but ultimately it’s the Government who need to get this right now in the best interests of our future.”
Craig said: “HS2 will bring much-needed capacity to our creaking rail network and create enormous new opportunities. But an overground station with limited resilience and constrained scope for future growth would squander many of those potential positives.
“Our case, which I will be making in Parliament next week, is that a strategic rather than short-sighted view is needed which looks at the ongoing long-term benefits and not just the immediate investment required. If as a nation we get this critical infrastructure project wrong, we will be counting the costs for many decades to come.
“After decades of transport underinvestment, the North deserves better.”
Northern Powerhouse Partnership CEO Henri Murison said: “We have got to choose the North’s long-term prosperity and ambition over short-term cost cutting.
“An underground station would unlock additional land in the city centre, enable a deliverable through-route for Northern Powerhouse Rail towards Yorkshire and ultimately deliver a far higher return for the taxpayer.
“Equally as important is ensuring we get a fair deal for the high-speed station at Manchester Airport, which government is asking the local public sector to fund – unlike the station at Birmingham Airport. We need a serious conversation about funding options for both stations, including a development corporation to maximise the number of homes we can deliver in and around Greater Manchester.”