Northern business leaders back underground NPR-HS2 at Piccadilly station

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig have been backed by the leading businesses of the North in their call for Government to deliver the optimal form of high-speed rail to Manchester with a new underground Northern Powerhouse Rail-HS2 through station at Piccadilly.

Mayor Burnham and Cllr Craig met with the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) in Manchester to discuss the importance of an underground through station, as it will determine connectivity and capacity levels not just for the North, but all the UK, for the next century.

NPP – which is made up of the North’s leading businesses, spanning a range of industries including energy, construction and financial services – have given their support for the proposals for an underground through station which will be heard by a Bill Select Committee in Parliament from 12 June.

With HS2 linking the country’s major economic areas of London, West Midlands and Greater Manchester, NPP agree with Mayor Burnham and Cllr Craig that seamless onward connections to the rest of the North via an underground through-station at Manchester Piccadilly is essential if it is to deliver transformational connectivity north-south and east-west, and the essential infrastructure to unlock economic growth for generations to come.

However, the Government’s current proposals for the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) HS2 station at Manchester Piccadilly to be a turnback station built on the surface places an unnecessary limit on its ability to accommodate more trains once NPR and HS2 services are running in the future.

Burnham and Craig say that an underground NPR-HS2 station provides an opportunity to transform the Piccadilly area and maximise regeneration, supporting 14,000 jobs, new housing and delivering £333m a year more in benefits by 2050 to the local economy than the overground proposal.

The NPP join the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Greater Manchester’s Federation of Small Businesses in backing an underground Piccadilly station.

Burnham said: “In HS2 we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver something truly transformational for Greater Manchester, the North and the whole of the country that will improve the lives of generations to come.

“But in its current form, HS2 does not do that. In order to truly maximise the benefits of high-speed rail between London and Manchester and future Northern Powerhouse Rail services, a through-station that unlocks seamless onward connections to the rest of the North at Manchester Piccadilly simply has to happen, and it needs to be connected directly to London Euston, not six miles out of the city.

“Government’s current proposals for a turnback station on the surface will slow travel down and limit our ability to grow services in the future to support the greater connectivity and economic benefits HS2 should open up.

“Decisions made on HS2 now are absolutely vital to the future. I’m delighted, but unsurprised, that we can add the support of the North’s leading businesses in the form of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, to the list of those backing an underground station at Piccadilly. Next week Greater Manchester will make this case strongly in Parliament, but ultimately it’s the Government who need to get this right now in the best interests of our future.”