THE British government deposited the High Speed Rail (Crewe - Manchester) Bill in parliament on January 24 which, if approved, would give permission to proceed with construction of the 83.6km line from Crewe to Manchester in north west England.

The plans include two new high-speed stations at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport, and the British government claims the new line, which is expected to open between 2035 and 2040, will help deliver faster journeys across the north as it will connect with new lines planned to serve Leeds and Liverpool.

The Bill also includes plans to construct HS2 train fleet depots north of Crewe station, and at Annandale in Scotland as high-speed trains will operate between London, the Midlands, Crewe and Edinburgh/Glasgow. Part of the new line will also be used by Northern Powerhouse Rail services between Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says constructing the new HS2 line will allow capacity to double, or more, on routes between London/Birmingham and Manchester Journey times on the new line between London and Manchester will be cut by around 55 minutes and by around 45 minutes between Birmingham and Manchester.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says the project will create 17,500 new jobs in the region, and thousands more through the supply chain.

“We are determined to improve transport connections and level up communities across the country and this Bill marks a landmark moment as we bring HS2 to Manchester and lay the foundations for Northern Powerhouse Rail,” says Mr Grant Shapps, secretary of state for transport.

The DfT statement about the Bill claims that the Crewe - Manchester link is part of the £96bn Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) announced on November 18 last year, which axed half of the planned West Midlands - Leeds section of HS2. This claim is despite HS2 having always been planned to serve Manchester.

Construction of the first phase of the railway, the 225km London - Birmingham section is underway, to be followed by the 57.9km West Midlands - Crewe section. Trains are expected to start running between Old Oak Common and Curzon Street (Birmingham) between 2029 and 2033.

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