Changes to HS2's route through Staffordshire remain on the cards
Changes to the route of the second phase of HS2 through Staffordshire cannot be ruled out, the Government has said.
The section from Fradley, near Lichfield, to Crewe could be amended.
The Fradley-Crewe section is part of the Y-shaped phase two route for HS2 which will see the line taken north from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, with a completion date of around 2033.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the route could be altered as he announced the launch of a nine-week consultation on 'safeguarding directions' for the stretch to ensure it is protected from conflicting development which could also pave the way for homeowners in the area to ask the Government to buy their properties.
Mr McLoughlin said: "Other destinations served by the proposed HS2 Phase Two route, on both the eastern and western side of the country, should be reassured that we continue to be committed to a Y shaped HS2 network delivered as quickly as possible.
"Decisions on the phase two route will be taken when the necessary analysis has been completed, and my department continues to carefully review the material submitted by consultees and the further work undertaken by HS2 Ltd.
"While we work towards finalising a route for phase two, I cannot rule out the possibility of needing to make changes to the route - including from Fradley to Crewe.
"But in the interests of ensuring the timely and economic delivery of phase two I must consider protecting that part of the route from conflicting development in the meantime. Making safeguarding directions would also trigger the entitlement for affected owner-occupiers to ask the Government to buy their property under statutory blight arrangements."
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.
Sir David 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.
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.
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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