Fate of Stafford-HS2 link to be revealed
Speeding up construction and axing a link to Stafford could feature in a new report from the boss of controversial HS2.
HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins will unveil his vision for the entire £50 billion project when he presents a new report this month.
Sir David is expected to reinforce his commitment to bringing forward construction through Staffordshire forward by six years and making the whole line to Manchester and Leeds operational by 2030 - three years earlier than planned.
He is also expected to confirm Crewe will be chosen over Stoke-on-Trent as a major 'hub' station connecting the north.
A key revelation will be whether he decides a link between HS2 and the West Coast Main Line at Lichfield is needed.
If he decides the link is not needed it will cut off any link between the high speed rail line and Stafford but spare residents living between Lichfield and Rugeley where a nine-mile spur linking to the West Coast Main Line is proposed to be built at Handsacre.
In March, Sir David proposed speeding up development so the line from London to Crewe was completed by 2027 - six years earlier than planned.
If approved by the Government, it would mean work would start earlier along a 45 mile swathe of rural Staffordshire.
Another main proposal will be improving the rail links from Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Hull.
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Crewe is expected to get the nod as a major interchange for passengers travelling from the south and the Midlands connecting to services to the north.
Sir David said: "HS2 and the future of the existing network need to be considered together to maximise the synergy between them – and both need to be considered as part of a much wider overview of how to regenerate the north as a whole.
"I have been struck by the growing recognition by civic leaders of the potential transformational effect that HS2 could have on the north, not just because of improved access to and from London, but also to increase the linkages, trade and development across the region, east to west and north to south.
"To date, the discussions about how to realise the potential of the second phase of HS2 have tended to focus on the line itself, and there have been bilateral discussions between HS2 Ltd and individual cities and local authorities.
"This underestimates both the transformation that HS2 could bring to the entire region, and the potential for change if HS2 is seen as part of the wider transport network.
"Issues such as how to considerably improve the trans-Pennine line between Leeds and Manchester; or whether to re-open the Wortley Curve to improve services to Bradford and Wakefield; or the potential for electrification from Leeds to Hull; or the impact of the East Coast upgrade are not within HS2's remit, but are hugely relevant to final decisions on the route."
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