Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed that the high speed rail link connecting Crewe to Birmingham will open six years ahead of schedule in 2027.
The news delivers a major boost to the Midlands, Northern Powerhouse and Scotland.
This new route has been billed as a significant catalyst for driving growth and rebalancing regional economies across the country as it is set to considerably slash journey times and increase capacity on the rail network.
This news ensures the benefits will be brought to the North much sooner and will build on the connectivity that already exists at Crewe, supporting growth and local jobs.
When the route opens in 2027, the reduced journey times delivered by High Speed 2 (HS2) phases 1 and 2a will be:
- Crewe to London will be cut by 35 minutes
- Manchester to London will be cut by 40 minutes
- Glasgow to London will save 48 minutes
The government is committed to delivering the whole of HS2, setting out £55.7 billion for the programme in the 2015 Spending Review.
Once complete, HS2 will mean journey times fall by an hour from London to Manchester, by 53 minutes from London to Glasgow and by 65 minutes from Birmingham Curzon Street to Leeds.
In another boost for the Northern Powerhouse, the Chancellor confirmed that former director general of the CBI, John Cridland has been announced as the first chair of transport for the North (TfN), a new body created to help transform transport connectivity across the Northern Powerhouse.
The Government has committed to an increase in transport spending so the construction of HS2, to link the Northern Powerhouse to the South, can begin.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “Bringing forward this part of the HS2 route by six years is a massive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse where high speed rail will play a big role in connecting up the entire region with the rest of the country.”
Transport for North Chair John Cridland said: “There is much to do to improve transport capacity and links across the North , and we now have the opportunity to make this happen.”
HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir David Higgins said: “This is another significant milestone in the development of Britain’s high speed rail network.
“By accelerating the second phase between Birmingham and Crewe, we will bring the capacity, connectivity and regeneration benefits of HS2 to the North-West and Scotland years earlier than originally planned. It has also been very gratifying, as we develop the plans for Phase Two, to see a consensus grow among the city regions in the East Midlands and Yorkshire on the siting of future hub stations at Toton and Leeds city centre respectively.
“We all recognise the huge contribution this infrastructure investment can make in helping to rebalance our economy.”
The Chancellor confirmed the government’s commitment to the full ‘Y-shaped’ network servicing Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.