I have co-signed a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, with MPs from North East Wales, Cheshire and beyond calling on Crewe to be made a hub train station when HS2 is completed.
Stakeholders across our region are agreed that we need Crewe to be a hub on the HS2 network that can provide good regional connectivity to North Wales, Cheshire and neighbouring counties. In order to function effectively as a hub and deliver 360 degree connectivity, the end solution must deliver the right frequency and extent of HS2 services, provide good cross platform connections for local services to HS2, and not result in any constrained capacity for classic train services to access and use the existing station.
In the view of all those that signed the letter, the proposals that we understand to have been under consideration fall short of being able to achieve these outcomes. We fear that unless the right solution is put in place now, as part of the once-in-a-generation investment that HS2 represents, our region will continue to under-perform for decades to come.
The letter has been signed by 8 MPs and raises four main concerns:
1. Frequency and extent of HS2 services: The current proposals detail two trains an hour at Crewe. These are in effect stops of the HS2 service between London and Liverpool / Preston at the point where the classic line to the north joins the HS2 line south. The letter urges the transport secretary to ensure that 5-7 stopping trains per hour at Crewe, which would allow connectivity to these and other destinations, is essential.
2. Connectivity to the northbound (phase 2b) HS2 network: In order for Crewe to function as an HS2 hub and satisfy the frequency and extent of services required, it is vital that the station is connected directly to the phase 2b HS2 route, to the north of Crewe. This is not presently the intention. The current proposal is to tunnel under Crewe so that almost all services (other than the two trains per hour) pass under Crewe without stopping.
3. Platform capacity at Crewe station: Adequate platforms within close proximity of one another are required at Crewe to service both HS2 and classic routes and hence deliver cross-platform connectivity. Some of the options that have been under discussion would involve lengthy walk times, leading to poor connectivity.
4. Junction capacity: One of the main issues currently resulting in capacity constraints at Crewe is the layout of the north junction. This is the point where the Manchester route and the North Wales route diverge from the West Coast Main Line. Since the WCML was upgraded some years ago, resulting in many trains no longer stopping at Crewe but passing through at high speed, the capacity at this junction has been particularly restricted.
The completion of HS2 will be a huge boon for our local economy. It will enable us to have more frequent and faster links to the West Midlands and South East when it is completed. This will bring more business to our area and as a result more jobs.
I have campaigned hard to ensure that Flint has a direct train to London, which has proved to be a success. But now it is time for us to be able to benefit from HS2 and for that to happen Crewe needs to be made a key hub station. This will improve connections for us in North Wales.
8 MPs have co-signed this letter to the transport secretary showing that there is a unified approach by all MPs in area. He needs to take note of our concerns and follow through with the reforms to the plans we propose. Only then will HS2 truly work for us in North Wales.