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Council chief's vow to get best HS2 deal

Staffordshire | News | Published:

The fight to reduce the impact of HS2 on communities in Staffordshire will continue, say council chiefs.

It comes after transport bosses pledged to press ahead with plans to include a Stafford link in the project which would see trains on the route between London and the north of England to run through the county town.

The man behind the scheme, Sir David Higgins, has also said he wants to see the line through Staffordshire built six years earlier and be operational by 2027 instead of 2033.

Under the proposals, trains would come off the £50 billion high speed line at Lichfield and join up with the West Coast Mainline, travelling through Stafford and Stoke.

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The nine-mile stretch, known as the Handsacre link will help link HS2 to other towns and cities including Macclesfield and Stockport.

Sir David has ordered a review to look at making the link through Stafford a reality.

But Staffordshire County Council's leader has said he remains opposed to the project and will work to get the 'best deal' for residents.

Councillor Phillip Atkins said that getting confirmation of the proposed route brought greater 'clarity'.

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See also: Link between Stafford and HS2 line branded 'waste of time and money'.

He said: "From the outset we decided as a county council to help our communities' voices to be heard, to minimise any environmental impact and capture the maximum economic advantage for the whole of Staffordshire and we will be bringing our experience and expertise in influencing the design of phase one to help communities in phase two.

"With proposals to accelerate route via Crewe it is more vital than ever that the voice of the whole of Staffordshire is heard so we can get the best result in terms of reducing the impact, winning meaningful compensation and ensuring Staffordshire benefits from HS2 compatible trains to the north west.

"We are also keen to see more investment in roads and the rail network so residents from both Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent benefit from better connectivity between both the west and east Midlands, and on to the north west and north east of the country."

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Will a HS2 link to Stafford benefit the area? Leave your comments below.

A third high-speed rail line – that has been dubbed HS3 – has also been announced by the Government to slash journey times across the country.

The line will connect Manchester and Leeds, with journey times set to be cut in half.

The Chancellor has also announced the creation of a new body called Transport for the North made up of the main northern city regions.

The Government, working with Transport for the North, will now produce a transport strategy for the region including costs and timescale, expected to be released next March.

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