A concrete jungle of viaducts will “interrupt” eastern Manchester if government plans for a cheap high-speed train station at Piccadilly continue, local leaders have warned – while 14,000 potential new jobs would be lost due to the amount of land required to build it .
Under the government’s existing proposal, HS2 would rise from the subsoil on a viaduct at least nine meters high for a kilometer stretch between Ardwick and the new station.
The Manchester Council says the Northern Powerhouse Rail, the proposed high-speed link to Leeds, should then return from the station on ANOTHER viaduct, somewhere near the first.
It is unclear how far it will extend across the city.
But in the process, Chancellor Lane, one of the main thoroughfares into the city center from Ardwick, was to be closed forever, and a huge new road exchange was to be built at Pin Mill Brow.
Local leaders warn that unless ministers support their alternative, which would place the new station completely underground at Piccadilly instead, part of Manchester will be cut off and destroyed forever.
New Council analysis also finds that the amount of land required to build the government’s preferred solution will cost up to 14,000 new jobs as a result of the lost development opportunities around Piccadilly, reducing potential economic growth by an estimated £ 333 million in 2050
And both executives and technical experts warn that the station would be full from day one of HS2 and NPR, meaning the station would have no capacity to accept any additional services in the north beyond that.
Such a move would not be seen in London, they also claim, where an underground HS2 station – with similarities to Manchester’s underground proposal for Piccadilly – has already been funded and is under construction.
You can see the suggested route for the new HS2 western leg on the interactive map below. The yellow line represents the proposed route, and by zooming in you can see how the different sections will be built. Purple lines will be above-ground viaducts. Areas on the map surrounded by a red border have been designated “land potentially required during construction “.
Question marks have long hung over the design of Piccadilly’s high-speed station, but Manchester executives suffered a major setback in this autumn’s Integrated Rail Plan.
Ministers said they had not been convinced by the local argument for an underground high-speed station, claiming it would cost up to £ 5bn. more than one surface option that would sit along the northern flank of the existing station.
But the council’s past and recent analysis both point to a huge opportunity cost as a result of this – as well as societal damage east of the city and years, if not decades, of disruption.
By building on the surface, the HS2 would have to rise from the ground in Ardwick before traveling on a kilometer-long viaduct up to 12 meters high to reach the new surface station.
To then connect to Leeds, it was to return to itself and leave Piccadilly on several viaducts beyond east Manchester towards Yorkshire. Since detailed design proposals for NPR are not available, it is unclear how far or exactly where these structures will extend.
Councilor Bev Craig has described the solution as ‘unsightly’, while Andy Burnham has warned it will ‘separate’ communities in eastern Manchester. Leaders here instead want an underground version built at a different angle so that the high-speed service could simply travel straight through from London and on towards Yorkshire.
Manchester’s argument also depends on the enormous economic cost of developing on the surface rather than underground – especially as the government prepares to publish its White Paper on ‘leveling’.
The council’s own analysis suggests that the new high-speed station, by building on the surface, would absorb half a million square meters of first-class development land, which would cost 14,000 potential new jobs in the process along with 2,600 jobs in the immediate construction zone while working. occurs.
Previous work done by technical consultants Bechtel, hired by the council in 2019 to look at the potential options for Piccadilly, had already concluded that pre-existing plans for an HS2 station now simply caused NPR to be deployed on them as a “addition”, rather than a fundamental reworking of the designers to ensure the most sensible solution.
“It was far from clear to the team that HS2 Limited’s preference for two additional platforms in their surface station would provide a satisfactory solution for NPR, with through services required to turn and lose further developing countries, both in the immediate vicinity of the station and along its approaches, ”it found, adding that it had managed to find ‘very little’ in the way of detailed technical designs or cost calculations, suggesting that they had either not been prepared or had not been shared.
Bechtel concluded that a six-platform underground ‘box’ solution, adapted at a better angle so that services could continue to Leeds, would be a more sensible alternative. It also pointed out that this solution was already taking place just west of London, in Old Oak Common, where an underground HS2 station is being built.
Manchester Council’s recent research has now included more detailed economic work, including the cost of jobs and the economy of occupying the city center’s land area.
City Hall leader Bev Craig said she welcomed the fact that HS2 was still coming to Manchester – which is not the case for Leeds or Sheffield, following a government’s railway plan that led to backlash across the north.
“We know we can be perceived as lucky compared to other northern cities, which are also urgent cases for railway improvements,” she said.
“But it only makes it all the more important that we maximize the benefits of what is delivered, not only for the city, but for the Nordic region as a whole.
“The above-ground plan is the wrong one. It will be cheaper to build in the short term, but in the long term it will cost the region’s economy much more in missed opportunities.
“It will also cause major disruption while it is being built, leaving a legacy of ugly viaducts and other above-ground infrastructure that limit our ability to create new homes or jobs.
“Limiting the potential of what will be one of the best connected places in the country makes no sense at all.
Nor does it create a station with capacity constraints that will undermine its reliability and resilience from day one.
“We urge the government and HS2 Ltd to reconsider the urgent issue of an underground station. This would not only solve the problems of the above-ground opportunity, but would create a station empowered to support growth, jobs and other opportunities and help with “To realize the government’s proclaimed leveling ambitions. If they want the opportunity that brings the greatest benefits in the years to come, they need to look beneath the surface.”
Andy Burnham said he would oppose the latest HS2 bill to be tabled in parliament next week if the government did not change its station plans.
“It’s huge amounts of huge above-ground surface infrastructure in places like Ardwick or beyond,” he said of the implications of the surface proposal. “And that’s a concern.”
Locally, leaders had not seen detailed plans for exactly how the government expected it to work, he said, but added: “I think it will be a basis for submitting petitions to Parliament as these communities do not deserve to be separated. thus. .”
The mayor also planned to raise the issue of raising secretary Michael Gove during his visit to the city last Friday, when the minister visited the Mayfield site, just a stone’s throw from the proposed viaducts.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has previously denied in the House of Commons that railroads would be built on viaducts coming into Piccadilly.
In response to Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer in November, he said HS2 ‘will not be on stilts coming in’.
“Of course we can only spend the same money once and we need to spend it as wisely as possible,” he added about the Piccadilly plans.
“If we spend £ 6bn or £ 7bn on building the Manchester underground station, we’ll take away from Liverpool, Leeds, Hull or any of the other places that require money.”
A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: “We have been working with Greater Manchester partners from the start of this project to provide the best solution for the region.
“Our analysis found that an underground station would cause major disruption during construction and take passengers longer to reach the platforms, which would nullify the benefits of faster travel, all with an additional cost of up to £ 5 billion, while that it would delay the introduction of full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail services.
“A surface station provides the best value for money and supports Greater Manchester’s ambitions to realize the benefits that HS2 will bring to the region.”