Distortion and encumbrance
In the National Infrastructure Commission ‘High Speed North’ report, Andrew Adonis stated that “connectivity between the northern cities should be improved in stages, by kick‑starting HS3, integrating it with HS2 and planning for the redevelopment of the North’s gateway stations”.
The report attempted to redefine ‘HS3’ as “a vision for a network of transformed inter‑city rail links… which can meet the aspirations of the northern city regions for shorter journey times, and for increased capacity and frequencies”.
However, those “aspirations” make no sense, and the proposed HS2 infrastructure is the biggest encumbrance to improving rail connectivity in northern England.
Northern transport planning is being distorted and encumbered by the political need to integrate high speed infrastructure with regional rail. The design of the western leg of HS2 is not suited to improving northern connectivity, and there is no cost-effective way of adapting it.
A ‘high speed’ journey from Manchester to Liverpool using the HS2 infrastructure would take about the same time as a trip on the Chat Moss line. The dead-end Manchester Piccadilly HS2 station was not designed to facilitate fast Transpennine journeys, so the National Infrastructure Commission funded Arup to produce ‘fruitcake’ proposals for underground loops under Manchester, to make HS3 track ‘point the right way’.
The design of the eastern leg of HS2 is likewise unsuited to improving northern connectivity, and there is no cost-effective way of adapting it. The costs of connecting HS2 to the classic rail tracks at Meadowhall, or elsewhere, is unknown.
What is known, is that “Leeds Mk2” high speed station was designed as a dead-end, with no capacity provision for any regional or Transpennine traffic.