Phase 2b legislation included in government’s legislative agenda
Legislation to underpin the final phase of the planned route for HS2 could become law despite the cancellation of the project.
The High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill, which among other things includes the powers necessary for compulsory purchase of properties along the route, has been included in the government‘s legislative agenda for the year ahead.
The move has prompted celebrations among advocates of another planned rail scheme – Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) – which was set to share a stretch of the proposed HS2 route between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
Protecting the NPR project is likely the reason the government is pressing ahead with the High Speed Rail Bill, with no suggestion of a U-turn on the high-profile decision to cancel the UK’s biggest infrastructure project.
The Department for Transport has previously said that removing the safeguarding from the Phase 2b section of the route will take longer – until next Summer – because of the need to ensure appropriate safeguarding for the NPR-related parts of the route.
Lord Jim O’Neill, chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said it was a “huge relief” to see the legislation survive.
“Dropping it would have meant losing a key section of the Northern Powerhouse Rail route between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport, adding many, many years to the time it would have taken to get this critical new line to get from Yorkshire and the North East to both the airport and on to Warrington and Liverpool,” he said.
“We’re grateful to those including the Northern Research Group, led by John Stevenson MP, and Labour frontbenchers Louise Haigh MP and Lucy Powell MP, who have been fully committed to this important step forward.
“It is vital for the Northern Powerhouse vision to connect our great cities and towns together into a single economic entity.
“We now have an opportunity to accelerate Northern Powerhouse Rail, and we hope the government will work tirelessly to show how serious they are so that the hybrid bill committee can complete its work, and not fall behind and delay building the tunnel to get in and out of Manchester, along with both a new and improved station.”