In section 7 Crewe to Manchester Airport, here, a proposal was made for an underground real HS2 Airport Interchange station to replace the folly proposed by HS2 Ltd. In continuation of this proposal these pages outline a proposal for an improved and cost effective route from the airport interchange to Manchester Piccadilly, using the existing Styal line to replace the long tunnels proposed by HS2 Ltd.


To enable this work to take place while maintaining rail services to the many regional and national destinations now served from the airport, the proposal includes a short new rail link. The proposal also includes replacing the existing stopping rail service on the Styal line with a new Metrolink tram line between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.


a. The HS2 route from Manchester Airport to Manchester Piccadilly


The route from the underground real HS2 Airport Interchange station should continue towards Manchester Piccadilly, initially in twin tunnels below the south-eastern corner of Woodhouse Park. The twin tunnels may merge to a single two track tunnel towards the Styal line north of Heald Green. The tunnel could emerge along that line near Gatley Golf Course.


Along or north of the golf course the emerging HS2 line will join the Styal line carrying classic rail services between the airport's surface station and Piccadilly. From here to Mauldeth Road HS2 and classic rail services should share that line. HS2 should renew the existing tracks, electrics and signalling to HS2 specifications for 230kph and clear the line to GC gauge.


North of Mauldeth Road there are two options. With option one, favoured here, the two tracks, carrying both HS2 and classic services, would drop down into a tunnel. Underground the HS2 and the classic services would split, with the HS2 tunnel aligning with the revised 2016 alignment of the HS2 approach to Manchester Piccadilly. The classic services would bypass the Slade Lane junction underground and emerge close to where the 2013 HS2 consultation route emerged, but on the south-western side of the West Coast Main Line (WCML), ready to connect with Piccadilly’s southerly through platforms.


With option two the HS2 services would drop into a tunnel as for Option one. The classic services would continue on the existing high-level track through Slade Lane junction onto the WCML towards Piccadilly's southerly through platforms.


Option one seems the better choice: The bottleneck at Slade Lane junction would be eliminated and the high level line from Mauldeth Road to Slade Lane could be demolished. The approach of regional and national classic services from the airport to the southerly through platforms at Piccadilly would be greatly simplified.


b. Other works required


During the construction period a short new permanent rail link will be required to maintain rail services to the many regional and national destinations now served from the airport. The rail link would run eastwards from the airport, perhaps just north of the new A555 road, to the  WCML near Stanley Green. Initially this link would maintain rail services from the present airport station via Stockport to Piccadilly and beyond during the upgrading of the Styal line. Later the link would serve future Transport for the North direct services from Sheffield to the airport, perhaps via Stockport.


Reference was made above to the revised 2016 alignment of the HS2 approach tunnels to Manchester Piccadilly station. Consultation documents on this realignment indicated that HS2 lines and the WCML would be kept apart. However, a link between these lines seems to be necessary: From 2026/27 there will be 3 HS2 services per hour in each direction between Piccadilly and London, with at least 2 of them calling at Stockport, and 2 services per hour between Piccadilly and Birmingham, both calling there. It is unrealistic to expect all 8 or 10 hourly HS2 services to Stockport to cease in 2033, having called there for 6 or 7 years. Any HS2 services from London and Birmingham via Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield should continue to Piccadilly, serving Stockport. These services will need a link from the WCML to access the HS2 section of Piccadilly station.


c. New Metrolink line between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport


It is proposed above that HS2 services and existing and new services between Manchester Piccadilly and the airport should share an upgraded Styal Line. This means replacing the local stopping rail service there with a new Metrolink line between Manchester Piccadilly and the airport.


Any Metrolink route out of Piccadilly should join the A34 Kingsway at or to the north of Mauldeth Road and stay on the A34 to the John Lewis / Sainsbury’s junction at Cheadle. From there it could follow Wilmslow Road to Finney Lane and Simonsway, to join the existing Metrolink line to the airport at Shadow Moss Road. 



The map above is from a HS2 leaflet 'Rostherne to Manchester Piccadilly'.


The railway line leaving Manchester Airport in a south-westerly direction is the proposed HS2 line down to the Crewe to Stockport line near Jodrell Bank, see section 7 Crewe to Manchester Airport here.


The railway line leaving the airport in a westerly direction is now a new Network Rail (or Transport for the North) connection onto the western part of the former HS2 approach to Piccadilly Station. It is proposed that this line will become part of a new TfN connection between Liverpool and Manchester Airport. The line could also be used for services to the airport from other Northwest cities and from Scotland, see section 9 Crewe to NPR, Liverpool and the North here.


The map also shows the proposed new tunnel (connected dots) under the airport to the Styal Line, the proposed TfN services tunnel towards the southside of Piccadilly Station, the proposed short link to the Stockport line at Stanley Green and part of the proposed Metrolink line (in red) between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.


Map added and text revised 27 August 2019.