In November 2015, at the close of the epic battle of Cheshire versus Staffordshire for the ‘prize’ of the north Midlands HS2 ‘hub’, the Waterman vanquished the Maglevman, and Cheshire East council did rejoice.
[Cheshire East council, November 30, 2015]
Cheshire East Council has hailed today’s historic announcement that the Government is committed to building HS2 high-speed rail via Crewe and will invest £5bn to help bring the project online six years early.
Chancellor George Osborne, MP for Tatton, made the landmark statement confirming the finalised route the HS2 project will take. It also confirmed that the northern section to Crewe would be completed by 2027 rather than 2033.
Cheshire East Council Leader Councillor Michael Jones hailed the announcement as a ‘game-changer’ that makes it certain that Crewe will get a HS2 hub station – helping create more than 120,000 jobs by 2040 and injecting £10bn a year into the wider region’s economy.
But how much of a prize was it, really? What does the ‘Crewe HS2 hub’ actually amount to? How much ‘game changing’ might come of it? And which cities could be reached directly by HS2 from the ‘Crewe hub’?
According to the government’s updated economic case for phase 2, the ‘HS2 hub’ looks likely to be not much more than some revamp of the existing station. It would be unable to accommodate captive high speed trains, and if the ‘service pattern for modelling purposes’ is anything to go by, just two HS2 trains would call each hour, in each direction.
The cities directly served would be
3. Preston (yes, Preston is officially a city)
4. Er, that’s it.
So, HS2 ‘hub’, or ‘just a nub’?