Connect Stoke and Stafford to HS2 says Greengauge
As things currently stand, some major towns and cities could lose out when HS2 is built.
Places like Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford on the West Coast main line, and Wakefield on the East Coast main line, for example, currently enjoy fast, frequent and direct services to London, but they could literally find themselves side-tracked in the future- unless steps are taken now to ensure that this does not happen.
This is a main concern for Greengauge 21: It has called on HS2 to reconfigure proposed service patterns between London and Manchester so that Stoke-on-Trent and other towns do not lose out: The move follows recent calls by HS2 Chairman, Sir David Higgins to accelerate the second phase by extending HS2 and taking it 43 miles to a new hub at Crewe, and to complete the line six years earlier than planned in 2027.
“The ‘business case’ service plans published by HS2 Ltd have no HS2 services shown to Stoke-on-Trent, and Stafford would only be served by an hourly train path from Liverpool (on the West Coast main line). A better approach is needed,” the report says.
The Greengauge proposal is to run some Euston-Manchester Piccadilly high speed trains along the HS2 to a new connecting junction with the WCML at Handsacre –just north of Lichfield – then re-route services onto existing tracks by Stafford, Norton Bridge and Stoke-on-Trent.
“It is possible to serve Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport with a single train path (to Manchester Piccadilly). On their own, services to these locations might not be justified; served together as a string of key North Staffordshire/Cheshire destinations they would be viable for HS2 service. Fast HS2 trains to/from Manchester Piccadilly would use the route via Crewe,” it argues.
By taking the line on to Crewe, Greengauge maintains HS2 would free up even more freight paths than originally envisaged on the WCML, and quotes a WSP report citing that 500,000 annual HGV movements on the M1, M6 and M40 motorways could be eliminated. Greengauge says it would also facilitate much better local services and enable a twice hourly fast service to be run between Euston and Stafford on the Trent Valley route(via Rugeley, Lichfield, Tamworth, Nuneaton and Rugby).
Another advantage, according to the report, is that part of the existing route could be closed.
“The route between Colwich Junction (where the Stoke-on-Trent line parts company with the WCML) and Stone Junction has no intermediate passenger stations or freight terminals and could be taken out of use. This (11 mile) section is only used regularly by Pendolino services today, and these would be replaced by the proposed HS2 services from Stoke-on-Trent operating via Stratford. The disused track-bed could be used to create a useful off-road long-distance cycle path. Three road level crossings would be eliminated, enhancing safety and reducing delays, and the junctions at Colwich and Stone would be abolished, increasing line speeds and shortening journey times.”
Greengauge 21 has called on the government to commit itself to the kind of proposals outlined in the report.
Greengauge 21: Stoke & Staffordshire can be key HS2 beneficiaries – as well as Crewe