Lobby group will press government on plans to axe underground Manchester HS2 station

Joanne Roney

More than 50 political and business leaders from the Greater Manchester region will lobby the Government on its decision to axe plans for an underground HS2 station in Manchester.

The lobby, including Manchester City Council and the United City group, will present evidence to the Department of Transport next Wednesday, July 6, at the House of Commons, urging it to revise its designs for Manchester Piccadilly.

Bev Craig, the leader of Manchester City Council, the council’s chief executive, Joanne Roney, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, Shadow Minister for Culture Media & Sport Lucy Powell, and parliamentarians from across the North West will be in attendance.

Early in June the Government announced the controversial £3bn HS2 Golborne Link will be scrapped. The 13-mile link, known as the Golborne spur, would have connected the main Crewe-Manchester HS2 line to the west coast mainline near Golborne just south of Wigan.

The Crewe-Manchester HS2 mainline will remain in the Bill as before, and plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail will also be unaffected.

Leaders are citing a potential dent to the city’s economy of £333m per year if a new overground station goes ahead that will swallow prime city centre land.

The move comes after High-Speed Rail director general boss, Clive Maxwell, claimed an underground station would be too costly to develop. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also stated the underground option had been ruled out as it would drain money from other parts of the rail network.

However, London is set to benefit from an HS2 super hub that will be served by six underground tunnels, but Rail Minister Wendy Morton rejected calls for a Manchester version, stating that tunnelling would cause significant disruption and traffic congestion.

But the lobby group claims a surface station will swallow up a big chunk of city centre land that would otherwise be economically productive and support the city’s levelling up efforts.

They claim an underground version, which will cost an extra £3bn according to current projections, would provide £333m a year in additional economic benefits.

Among the companies attending the event to support Manchester City Council’s position are Bruntwood, Deloitte, the Manchester Airport Group, Muse Developments, and Avison Young.

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