The business is attacking HS2’s “extremely short-sighted” plans

Business leaders have called on parliament to reconsider “extremely short-sighted” projects for the next phase of HS2 as lawmakers begin debating the final stage of high-speed rail legislation.

The bill for the north-west section of the railway scheme, which begins in London and is scheduled to run from Crewe to Manchester by the mid-2030s, begins second reading in Westminster on Monday.

But critics say the ministerial plan to build Manchester’s central high-speed station above ground, not underground, will cost the city nearly half a million square meters of first-class development land, which could provide 14,000 jobs.

An analysis carried out on behalf of the Manchester City Council estimates that by 2050 the underground version will provide £ 333 million a year in additional economic benefits.

Lou Cordwell, founder of digital design firm magneticNorth and chairman of the Greater Manchester Local Corporate Partnership, which brings together private and public sector organizations from across the region, called on the government to rethink its “extremely short-sighted” design.

“A ground station will consume a huge amount of land in the city center that would otherwise be incredibly cost-effective and support our ambitions for ‘equalization,'” she said, given the prime minister’s domestic policy focus on regional economic recovery.

“We need to invest in a future-proof underground option that is designed to last more than 100 years and enables us to achieve the growth we know can be unlocked.”

The government has long indicated a preference for a six-platform ground station in Manchester, a point it confirmed in last year’s integrated railway infrastructure plan in the north and middle of the country. An underground project would cost an additional £ 4 billion to £ 5 billion, it is said to delay the project by seven years, while causing “major disruption” in the city center.

“The additional costs cannot be justified by the value of the added benefit of regeneration,” the railway strategy for the metro said.

Jürgen Meyer, former CEO of Siemens UK and now chairman of Digital Catapult, a British non-profit technology organization, said the projected price was an “exaggeration”, although one that would still be justified, including through opportunities for regeneration.

Referring to the modeling for 2019 by the engineering consulting company Bechtel, carried out on behalf of the Manchester City Council, he added that the currently planned station will now be “at full capacity on the day it opens.”

“You wouldn’t do that in London or Berlin; you wouldn’t do it in any other country, so why should we be in Manchester? he said. “Why do we never do anything sustainable for the future? Here we are talking about infrastructure for the next 100 years. “

Henri Murrison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership regional lobby group – whose members include Manchester Airport, Arup, Barclays and EY – said the station’s design “reduces the benefits of HS2 economically ”.

“There is a broad consensus in the north of England that a Manchester overhead station will damage the Northern Powerhouse Rail network,” he added.

The second reading of the bill should be used to “secure change”, he added. The Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Joint Body intend to submit a “petition” as part of the legislative process, objecting to elements of the bill and calling for changes that will need to be considered as they pass through parliament.

The Ministry of Transport said: “We have worked with stakeholders and Greater Manchester partners from the outset and through all stages of HS2 design to provide the best solution for the region.

“Our analysis found that one metro station would cause major disruption during construction and would take passengers longer to reach the platforms, nullifying the benefits of faster travel, all at an additional cost of up to £ 5 billion.” while significantly delaying the deployment of full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail Services. ”

The first phase of HS2, which runs between London and Birmingham, should open at some point between 2029 and 2033.

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