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HS2 and Stoke-on-Trent, part five

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Part four | Part three | Part two

HS2 Stoke Route connection

HS2 Stoke Route ‘Package 1’ connection

Having budgeted £450,000 for its Positively Stoke display at the 2014 Chelsea Flower Show, Stoke-on-Trent council has decided not to enter the Show in 2015. However, the council is continuing to spend prodigiously on campaigning to re-route the western leg of the proposed HS2 railway. Stoke ‘cabinet’ member Ruth Rosenau said that it was part of a ‘comprehensive’ approach to ensure the Government had the best data to make a ‘fully informed’ decision on HS2.

[Ruth Rosenau quoted on Potteries Eye, 13 Aug 2014]

“Our case is being recognised as compelling in the corridors of power.

“The Government is talking about HS2 connecting up cities to supercharge the national economy. Stoke-on-Trent is the only city between Birmingham and Manchester.”

In a letter published on the New Civil Engineer website ‘maglev man’ Alan James, project director of the HS2 Phase Two Stoke Route, claimed the government’s Crewe route “misses a trick” by bypassing Stoke.

[Alan James letter to NCE, published 26 August 2014]

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s plan for HS2 will deliver the benefits of high speed rail up to seven years more quickly and require £2 bn less capital expenditure than the current proposed route. It is able to do this, in part, by upgrading a section of the existing West Coast Main Line to high speed specification and by using a route profile which limits the requirement for expensive tunnelling to a minimum.

In Stoke on Trent council’s HS2 stage two consultation response (January 2014) a “£5 bn lower capital cost” was mentioned.

At over £5 bn lower capital cost, the Stoke Route will deliver direct high speed trains to the key Manchester and Liverpool HS2 markets in 2026, seven years earlier than the Consultation Route, and with journey times that are faster than in HS2’s 2026 scenario when Phase 1 ends near Lichfield.

HS2 'full' Stoke Route, showing Occlestone Green link

HS2 ‘Package 3’ Stoke Route put forward by Stoke on Trent council, showing captive route to Manchester via Occlestone Green

HS2 Stoke Route 'lite' proposal

HS2 Stoke Route ‘Package 1’

Is the Stoke Route £5 billion cheaper than the Consultation Route, or £2 billion cheaper? There is no way of knowing, because HS2 Ltd has never published a separate cost estimate for the western leg of the Y network. The cheapest version of the Stoke Route,  ‘Package 1’, would include gauge clearance of the classic line as far north as Kidsgrove. ‘Package 2’ would see a new captive link from Kidsgrove to Occlestone Green built to join up with the West Coast Main Line and the HS2 Consultation Route to Wigan.

In ‘Package 3’, the captive HS2 “Tatton kink” route into Manchester would be completed. Obviously, Package 1 gauge clearance to Kidsgrove would make little sense, unless there was an intention to implement Package 3, or Package 2 at the very least.

Another idea put forward was for classic compatible trains to run from the Potteries to Heathrow Airport, via Old Oak Common and Airport Junction. However, current HS2 Ltd planning does not appear to provide a facility at Old Oak for such movements. The costs, and path utilisation issues between Old Oak and Airport Junction, would appear to preclude direct trains.

If there were a transport or economic case to build a new railway from Birmingham to Manchester, it would make sense to build via Stoke-on-Trent. But the Stoke Route proposition is as flawed as anything produced by HS2 Ltd.


Written by beleben

September 1, 2014 at 11:36 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2

Tagged with ,

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  1. […] Part five […]

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