Stoke-on-Trent bids to bring high speed rail to city

Published on Friday, 07 February 2014 10:58
Written by Daniel Mason

The HS2 railway line should include a station in Stoke-on-Trent, the city's council has said, claiming that its proposed route would save billions of pounds and deliver the project more quickly than under the government's plans.

In a submission to the Department for Transport, the local authority said connecting the city to the high speed network would generate more than 120,000 jobs in the area and put Stoke just 55 minutes from London.

It added that its alternative vision for HS2 would save £5bn, do less damage to the Staffordshire countryside and see the line to Manchester completed in 2026, seven years earlier than is currently forecast.

This would be achieved by upgrading the existing west coast mainline north of Stone to carry high speed trains instead of building an entirely new railway. The station in Stoke would replace the planned stop in Crewe.

According to the submission, it would also reduce journey times from London to Manchester and Liverpool by 25 minutes and free up capacity on the west coast.

The leader of Stoke city council, Mohammed Pervez, said: "High speed rail should be all about the maximum boost to the UK economy, taking the brakes off growth. It aims to supercharge the regional and national economy by releasing the country's potential.

"That's what the government wants, but the current HS2 proposal bypasses Stoke-on-Trent and north Staffordshire and its enormous potential. It leaves a big hole in the government's aspirations."

He said the original plans would have a "huge negative impact" on Stoke, the UK's 13th largest city. "That is why we have developed a compelling case that is financially and technically feasible. It will deliver new dynamism to the industrial heart of the country."

Sara Williams, chief executive of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: "The Stoke-on-Trent model liberates the nation's enormous industrial potential, supercharging our economy and creating a massive trans-regional economic powerhouse, spanning from Birmingham to Manchester, ensuring the nation is firing on all cylinders."

In a joint statement, Keele University vice chancellor, Professor Nick Foskett, and Staffordshire University's Professor Michael Gunn said: "If HS2 is happening we need to reduce the cost and its environmental impact, improve its speed and delivery and make sure it serves all the conurbations. This means it must serve Stoke-on-Trent."

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