News that HS2 will be put through to Crewe has been welcomed by the rail freight industry.
The move will free up capacity for freight and local services.
‘By moving high-speed intercity trains onto the HS2 lines up to Crewe, additional capacity will be released for other train services, including freight, on the existing West Coast Main Line, which is a key corridor for freight,’ said Freightliner chief executive officer Russell Mears, as he welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to Freightliner’s Basford Hall depot in Crewe.
Mears and Osborne were joined by chief executive of HS2 Simon Kirby, newly appointed chair for Transport for the North John Cridland and Martin Frobisher, route managing director, Network Rail, on the morning of the government announcements expediting the high-speed line up to Crewe by six years.
A separate hybrid bill will be prepared for what’s been called Phase 2a of the route between Birmingham and Crewe.
Phase 2a will connect with Phase 1 just north of Lichfield. From there it makes its way towards Manchester, joining up with the West Coast Main Line 700 metres south of Crewe station. Once connected, high-speed services between Crewe and London will cut passenger journey times by 35 minutes.
Mears added, ‘There is a strong economic rationale behind reserving the ‘released capacity’ to grow freight volumes on the West Coast Main Line. Rail freight has grown 80 per cent since privatisation in the mid-1990s, now transporting goods worth over £30 billion a year and the number of deep- sea containers moved by rail has more than doubled.