The route for the second phase of the planned HS2 line, linking Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds, has been confirmed by the government.
After two years of postponements, the preferred route has been published, which sets out exactly where the northern sections of the line will run, although the plans for a potential stop in Sheffield have once again been delayed.
Phase one, which links London to Birmingham, is scheduled to commence services in 2026, while phase two would see the first services running in 2033. The second phase splits the line at Birmingham, with one line running in between Derby and Nottingham before passing Sheffield and on to Leeds. The other line would run north to both Manchester and Wigan via Crewe.
Gary Smithson, associate rail director for Morson, said “This announcement proves that the government is committed to HS2 and to the Northern Powerhouse: linking the north with London is a crucial step in closing the north/south divide.
“This is another exciting move forward in the HS2 project and the UK rail industry.
The government has also confirmed that the route would go to Manchester Airport, and that a brand new station would be built next to the existing Manchester Piccadilly.
The plan does not currently include the site of a potential station in Sheffield, and HS2 has put forward a city centre option after plans for a station at Meadowhall close to M1 junction 34 were scrapped.
The news is complemented by the announcement that the first enabling contracts, worth a total of £900million, have been awarded to cover the first three sections of the phase one route. The work, which includes site clearance, excavation and demolition, is split into three packages based on the section of the route, with work expected to begin next year ahead of the main civil engineering activity.