The government has confirmed the final route for phase two of the £55.7bn HS2 rail line north of Birmingham.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed in a letter to parliament he would be taking forward six of the seven revisions for the line north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.
The government published its preferred route last November for phase 2b of the line, which will see the western leg connect Crewe to Manchester and the eastern leg link Birmingham to Leeds by 2033.
This was followed by a period of consultation on which preferred options to take forward and which ones to reconsider.
The confirmed changes include the realignment of the route between Derbyshire to West Yorkshire around Sheffield.
The route will now see the south Yorkshire leg partly follow the M1 and M18 and serve Sheffield city centre via a spur, and includes provision for a northern junction allowing trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds city centres using HS2.
The M18 route chosen by the transport secretary has come in for criticism from local politicians, including MP for Doncaster North Ed Miliband.
Originally the preferred route was to create a new Sheffield parkway station at Meadowhall, but this was vetoed after Sheffield city councillors objected to the plan.
Pick Everard managing partner Duncan Green writes on the revised route plan for the £55.7bn rail line, and the ‘bittersweet’ news that the Birmingham to Leeds route would still not be connecting at East Midlands Airport.
The transport secretary also revealed the full development and construction timeline for the second phase of the line.
The development and environmental impact assessment will start next year, followed by consultation over potential route refinements.
The phase 2b hybrid bill will then be deposited in 2019, ahead of the bill achieving royal assent in 2022.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023 before the lines up to Leeds and Manchester are are fully operational in 2033.
Route changes approved by the transport secretary:
- Relocating the Western Leg Rolling Stock Depot (RSD) – moving the RSD from a site near Golborne to a site north of Crewe between the A530 Nantwich Road and the West Coast Main Line (WCML) near Wimboldsley.
- Changing the alignment over a 26 km length of route in the Middlewich-Northwich area of Cheshire, raising the route as it passes through the Cheshire salt caverns to avoid brining and gas storage infrastructure.
- Changing the alignment of the route on the approach to Manchester Piccadilly station to improve the operational efficiency of the station and avoid direct residential impacts and a primary school.
- Changing the route near East Midlands Airport, so the route follows the eastern side of the A42 more closely, avoids a tunnel under the airport, does not cross the A42, and reduces the impacts on some communities.
- Locating the route through Long Eaton on a high-level viaduct through the town immediately adjacent to the existing low-level rail corridor.
- The re-alignment of the route between Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. The route in South Yorkshire will be the route consulted in 2016 which in part follows the M1 and M18, serves Sheffield city centre via a spur from the HS2 line, and includes provision for a northern junction allowing trains to run between Sheffield and Leeds city centres using HS2.