The HS2 route connecting Crewe to Birmingham is to open six years ahead of schedule in 2027 – and John Cridland is to be appointed chair of Transport for the North.
The government’s plan is to considerably slash journey times and increase capacity on busy railways, this new route has long been billed as a significant catalyst for driving growth and rebalancing regional economies across the country. In confirming that the route will open six years earlier than planned, the government says the benefits will be brought to the North much sooner.
Once Phase 2a has opened in 2027, the reduced journey times delivered by HS2 phases 1 and 2a will be: Crewe to London will be cut by 45 minutes; Manchester to London will be cut by 40 minutes; and Glasgow to London will save 48 minutes.
The government says it is committed to delivering the whole of HS2, setting out £55.7bn for the programme in the 2015 Spending Review.
Once complete, HS2 will mean journey times fall by an hour from London to Manchester, by 53 minutes from London to Glasgow and by 65 minutes from Birmingham Curzon Street to Leeds.
In another boost for the Northern Powerhouse, the Chancellor confirmed that former Director General of the CBI, John Cridland has been announced as the first Chair of Transport for the North (TfN), a new body created to help transform transport connectivity across the Northern Powerhouse.
Chancellor George Osborne said:
“In my Spending Review we committed to the biggest rise in transport spending in a generation meaning that major projects like the construction of HS2, to link the Northern Powerhouse to the South, can begin.
“Bringing forward this part of the HS2 route by six years is a massive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse where high speed rail will play a big role in connecting up the entire region with the rest of the country.
“It’s fantastic to announce someone of the calibre of John Cridland to take on the important role of chairing Transport for the North. He will bring huge knowledge and experience to this position and I want to say thank you to Sir Richard Leese for the great job he has done in an interim capacity. I look forward to continuing to work together to deliver our shared aim of a world-class transport system for the north.”