CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the government’s commitment to develop Crewe as an integrated high-speed rail and conventional rail hub by 2027.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling told the House of Commons on 12 March: “I am pleased to inform the House that we have published our consultation response on taking forward the vision of a Crewe Hub. This response signals how our plans will support that vision and allow for the introduction of an additional HS2 service to Stoke-on-Trent.
“To enable this, we will amend our plans for HS2 Phase 2A, from Birmingham to Crewe. This includes 400 metre platforms at Crewe, which allow longer HS2 trains to split and join, opening up opportunities to serve more destinations including Stoke-on-Trent and enabling more people to access high speed, long distance services.
“We also intend to ask the franchise operator West Coast Partnership to include a high speed service to Stoke-on-Trent in its market development and service plans.”
High Speed rail group Greengauge21 said the present station, which was partly modernised in the 1960s when the West Coast route between London and the north west was being electrified, ‘is badly out-dated, with poor road access and a poor track layout’.
Crewe was once the most important provincial intercity junction in Britain, immortalised by the words of the music hall song ‘Oh, Mr Porter’, but this key role has long since passed to Birmingham New Street. Even so, Crewe remains important. Passenger numbers have been growing strongly – reaching 3 million users a year in 2010/1 and 4.5 million in 2016/7. It still provides a key connection between lines running north-south, north east-south west and north west-south east, and this means it is also vital to freight. Its major yard is used to remarshal trains and change crews.
The government statement followed a consultation which received strongly positive responses to the idea of a Crewe Hub. The Constellation Partnership and Growth Track 360, along with Cheshire East County Council and the Warrington and Cheshire LEP had been pressing for investment at Crewe, which will also support the major regeneration and growth plans that depend on it.
Greengauge21 commented: ‘Planning how best to fit in HS2 services when they arrive in 2027 requires very careful planning.’
By 2027, Crewe will be just 55 minutes from London.