Agenda item

Agenda item

High Speed Rail 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and 'Network North' Update

Report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development) attached


The Executive considered a report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development), which informed Members about the recent announcement by the Prime Minster to cancel the new railway infrastructure proposed between Birmingham and Manchester, as included in the High Speed (Crewe – Manchester) Bill (known as ‘HS2 Phase 2b’). The report also set out the key projects relevant to Greater Manchester and the city, described by the Prime Minister and included in the recently published Government paper, Network North and outlined the key implications which arose from the announcement of cancelling HS2 Phase 2b, and set out proposed next steps.


The Leader reported that neither the Council nor the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) were consulted on the cancellation of HS2 Phase 2a or Phase 2b or the alternative transport infrastructure investment proposals set out in the Network North paper prior to the Prime Ministers announcement at the Conservative Party Conference which was being held in Manchester.


The full HS2 and NPR schemes would have made essential contributions to the Government’s agenda of ‘Levelling Up’ and the benefits of HS2 to Manchester and the City region had been consistently set out in the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd’s Strategic Case for HS2. In light of the proposed changes, there was now a considerable risk that in the intervening period, before the alternatives to HS2 were delivered, the economic gap would widen and therefore achieving levelling up would become more challenging, more remote and was likely to cost more to achieve.


In addition to economic and levelling up losses, there were also extensive wider impacts as a result of the Government’s decision. These impacts included environmental and equality considerations as well as impacts to local regeneration strategies and plans.


It was also noted that the Government had heavily caveated that individual projects, referenced in its Network North paper, would be subject to the approval of businesses cases, and cash prices were based on indicative profiling. Additionally, the cash prices stated throughout the report varied from 2019 and 2023 prices and were subject to delivery timelines. Therefore, prices were likely to change, possibly significantly in some cases, and no evidence to support the robustness of the prices had been presented to date.


In terms of next steps, the Council would work with its key partners, such as GMCA and TfGM to seek further clarity from DfT on the proposals and urgent engagement on delivering the rail capacity and other transport improvements needed in Greater Manchester and the North of England.  It would continue to scrutinise the Network North proposals as more detail became available and respond to any consultations put out by Government in relation to the investments set out in the Network North paper.


The Leader confirmed that the Council would maintain the position that the infrastructure needed for Norther Powerhouse Rail should be protected in the hybrid Bill and remain safeguarded.  In addition, the Council would seek to produce a Strategic Plan on rail and other public transport infrastructure, working with relevant local partners and key stakeholders, to be brought back to the Executive for further consideration.




The Executive:-


(1)     Note the Government announcement to cancel the infrastructure proposed under the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) ‘Phase 2b’ hybrid Bill.


(2)     Note the Government announcement to invest 36 billion in road, rail and bus projects across the North, Midlands and South (including Scotland), called the “Network North” project.


(3)     Request Officers to produce a Strategic Plan on rail and other public transport infrastructure asks within the context of Network North for further consideration by the Executive.

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