a. A Crewe eastern HS2 bypass?
HS2 Ltd plans to run its non-stopping services through tunnels under Crewe. Stopping services will leave or join the main HS2 line north and south of the town, feeding into a HS2 hub there. The construction of the HS2 tunnels, the hub and a new Network Rail station is likely to lead to serious disruption of traffic on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) through Crewe to or from Liverpool, Preston/Scotland and Manchester. The HS2 hub itself may also impose future restrictions on WCML traffic through Crewe. HS2 Ltd and Network Rail should consider if HS2 services to and from Liverpool, Preston/Scotland and Manchester, together with all WCML services, would not be better served if the proposed tunnels were replaced by a Crewe eastern HS2 bypass. Such a bypass may also assist in keeping the cost of HS2 down.
The bypass could commence in the Ravenshall/Chorlton area south of the town, where it could deviate to the north from the HS2 line towards the Crewe hub. It would then cross the A500 and the A5020, run past Crewe Green and Haslington and across the A534. Returning to a north-westerly direction, it would cross the Crewe to Stockport railway line and continue towards the main WCML corridor, where it would re-join the HS2 line from the Crewe hub and run east of the proposed rolling stock depot near Wimboldsley as currently planned. The design speed of the bypass should be 320kph or less.
b. The route to Manchester Airport
From Crewe to Manchester Airport there are two options for the HS2 line: Either the long and slow route proposed by HS2 Ltd north to High Legh where a link to the airport would branch off east, running north of Rostherne Mere. Or, as proposed here, a shorter and faster route branching off the Crewe eastern bypass suggested above and using an upgraded 15km length of the Crewe to Stockport line to the Jodrell Bank radio telescope, sharing the line with other WCML services. Traffic density here is low enough to allow HS2 and WCML services to co-exist since HS2 services will be replacing existing Pendolino services. Past Jodrell Bank the HS2 line towards the airport would begin to turn northwards away from the Stockport line to the airport. The following route seems feasible:
Run east of Manor Farm in Snelson, across the A537 between Old Moat Hall and Chelford, west of Sandle Bridge Farm, east of Highgrove, Noonsun Farm and Warford House, west of Knolls Green, where it will cross the B5085, east of Mobberley Hall, pass closely the end of the southern runway, between Yarwood House Farm and Stock-in-Hey Farm, east of Higherhouse Farm and Meadowlands, then across the River Bollin and into twin tunnels under the airport freight centre to an underground real HS2 airport station, below the existing station and largely parallel with it.
The design speed of most of the new route could be 320kph, lower on the airport approaches, making the route both shorter and faster than the one proposed by HS2 Ltd. All HS2 services here are assumed to call at the airport station and none at Crewe. Refer also to pages 90 to 97 of MSG's March 2012 Engineering Options Report - West Midlands to Manchester, for a similar take on this route.
This new link would also allow classic services from the south, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff and Shrewsbury, to call at the airport on their way to Manchester. See Section 8 for a map showing how this connection could approach Manchester Airport.
c. Manchester Airport Interchange
Whichever route to Manchester Airport is constructed, it should enter twin tunnels to an underground real HS2 Airport Interchange station. The so-called airport station planned by HS2 Ltd to the north of the M56 motorway, far away from the airport it is supposed to serve, would offer no onward connectivity to other rail, bus or tram services nor convenient access to the airport's facilities and places of work. HS2 passengers and airport workers would have to make considerable efforts to access these facilities, using buses or other forms of transport. This station would not be sustainable, see section 3, ‘Airport’ Stations and Interchanges here.
In contrast the real HS2 Airport Interchange station proposed above, located below the existing railway station and largely parallel with it, is near the airport terminals. It would bring departing and returning airport passengers as well as airport workers close to the facilities they need. One end of the new Airport Interchange station could have direct access up into the expanded Terminal 2 while the other end could be below the current surface railway station with its buses and trams. There are also moving walkways serving all three terminals.
This real HS2 Airport Interchange would outperform Piccadilly HS2 station, having more convenient onward connectivity to classic rail services than Piccadilly could offer, including to Stockport and Sheffield (see Section 8). There will be no need here for the long walks required at Piccadilly from its HS2 station to the north to access classic rail services at the through platforms to the south. This Airport Interchange station would offer the connectivity and convenience expected by today's travellers. Unlike the one proposed by HS2 Ltd it would be sustainable and stand the test of time.
See also in section 9 how Transport for the North services from Liverpool and from elsewhere in the north and Scotland can reach the real Manchester Airport Interchange proposed here.
This section last revised 29 August 2019