Stoke HS2 dream comes to an end
Stoke-on-Trent's bid to be connected to the High Speed 2 rail line looks to have been dashed.
A report by Sir David Higgins, the chairman of the organisation running the project, has ignored pleas from business and council leaders to base a northern hub in the city in favour of a link in Crewe.
Sir David proposed to bring forward the line extension to Crewe by 2027 – six years earlier than originally planned – in his second report on the future of HS2, 'Rebalancing Britain: from HS2 towards a national transport strategy'.
A business case was recently launched outlining the benefits of a Stoke Route in a bid to win over the government. An alliance of business and community leaders claimed the route would deliver benefits earlier and to more people as well as saving the tax payer about £2bn.
Sir David's report also said that new sites in the East Midlands are to be investigated for the location of the region's HS2 hub station. Alternatives to the proposed site at Toton are to be studied in an effort to improve links to Nottingham and Derby.
Under Sir David's recommendations journey times from Birmingham to Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and York, among others could be reduced by a half or more.
The report also sets out plans to build a HS3 high-speed rail link to connect the ends of the Western and Eastern lines of the Y-Shaped second phase of the route between Manchester and Leeds.
"Improving connectivity is vital," he said. "If Britain is to compete in the knowledge economy in which this country has a competitive advantage, but in which ease of travel is an essential element.
"Knowledge based companies whether they are in high-tech manufacturing, the creative industries, finance or the law, have to be close, or feel close to the talent, skills base, support network, knowledge pools, collaborators and clients necessary to create the "hot-house atmosphere" in which they thrive.
"That is why reducing the journey times between and within our cities isn't just desirable for both passengers and freight. It is a strategic necessity."
His report outlined four main proposals, including a call to ensure that both legs of the proposed HS2 Y-network are completed, and urged cities in the north to "speak with one voice".