England

HS2 Birmingham to Crewe link 'Sad day' for Stoke-on-Trent

Proposed Crewe station design Image copyright FARRELLS
Image caption An artist's impression shows how the proposed station in Crewe would look

The HS2 link between Birmingham and Crewe marks a "sad day" for Stoke-on-Trent, Tristram Hunt has said.

City MP Mr Hunt said the line from London to Manchester could have been achieved more quickly and cheaply with a route through the Potteries.

The HS2 line from Birmingham to Crewe is set to open in 2027.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has suggested a junction be built in South Staffordshire to serve Stoke-on-Trent

'Big blow'

Under the new plans, a 43-mile HS2 section between Birmingham and Crewe will be opened six years earlier than initially planned.

Further updates on this story and others on Stoke and Staffordshire

The HS2 project aims to improve transport links with the north of England.

Image copyright PA
Image caption HS2 link from Birmingham to Crewe will open in 2027.

The government hopes the London to Birmingham route will be completed by 2026.

Crewe has been chosen above Stoke-on-Trent as the next key staging post on the route to Manchester. Stoke-on-Trent previously put a bid in for an HS2 railway station in its city centre.

Responding to the choice of Crewe over the city, Labour MP Mr Hunt said: "With Crewe rather than Stoke benefitting from this massive investment, plans for a northern gateway partnership between Stoke-on-Trent and east Cheshire become more important."

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council member for the economy, environment and transport, said the current route will cut through miles of countryside and be a "big blow" to communities.

Mr Winnington said: "HS2 will cut through 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside and from the outset we have been concerned about the impact a project of this scale will have not only on the environment but also on residents living close to the proposed route.


Analysis: Phil McCann, Political Reporter for Cheshire, BBC News

For six years Crewe will be the only place in the North West with an HS2 connection - in theory that means Cheshire can live up to the title it's given itself as gateway to the Northern Powerhouse.

In reality it's no big surprise, given the government-owned company responsible for HS2 has recommended Crewe should get a stop all along.

But it is clearly a blow for Stoke-on-Trent, which staged a rival bid to host a hub, and even threatened legal action if it failed.

Now the government and Cheshire officials say they're committed to making sure North Staffordshire feels the benefits of high speed rail.


'Game-changer'

Michael Jones, leader of Cheshire East Council, said the HS2 Birmingham to Crewe link would be a "game-changer" for Crewe and its surrounding regions.

"It's a real once-in-a-generation opportunity, the like of which Cheshire East has not seen before," he said.

Conservative MP for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant, described the announced route as "environmentally damaging to beautiful parts of Staffordshire ".

Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, Robert Flello said: "Crewe might look on a map [as if it is] next door to Stoke-on-Trent but the reality is it's a good hour by car from my constituents."

Conservative MP for Stafford, Jeremy Lefroy, called on Mr McLoughlin to "look again" at the proposed route.

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