This week, the government confirmed its preferred route for the second phase of HS2, its high-speed railway.
When the route from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds is completed in 2033, the number of mainline commuter and intercity trains per hour each way into and out of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will almost double to 48.
On the western leg, HS2 will continue north from Crewe to Manchester Airport and on to Manchester city centre, where a new HS2 station will be built next to Manchester Piccadilly.
There will also be a connection to Liverpool and to the existing West Coast main line allowing HS2 services to continue north, serving stations to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
On the eastern leg, HS2 will continue from the West Midlands to Toton in the East Midlands, where a new HS2 station will be built to serve Nottingham, Derby and the wider region.
It will continue north from the East Midlands to South Yorkshire. It will go to Sheffield, where consultations are still under way over plans to have a new station to the east of the city, with a connection to the existing city centre station.
From South Yorkshire, HS2 will continue to Leeds where a new HS2 station will be built in Leeds city centre, adjacent to the existing station.
HS2 will also have a connection on to the East Coast Main Line, allowing HS2 to serve York, Newcastle and other places in the North East.
“HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century; one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business,” said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
“The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory.
Commenting on its effect on properties in main cities along the route, Susan Emmett, director residential research, Savills, said: “News on the second phase of HS2 brings greater certainty to developers. I expect this will act as an incentive to bring forward sites around the station. We are already seeing a lot of activity in Birmingham to provide for greater demand for homes and work places. Certainty around the second phase could trigger more opportunities in Manchester and Leeds.”
However, there will be winners and losers when building of the new route gets under way. While Phase Two of HS2 will slash journey times for commuters, boost property prices around the main railway stations and encourage regeneration in the north of England, it will cause hardship for some communities along the route, where homeowners will need to sell up. In particular, there has been an outcry over the proposed demolition of a new housing estate in Mexborough, South Yorkshire.
Mr Grayling added: “I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with Phase One, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law.”
While welcoming the news that the government will pay compensation to homeowners affected by the construction of Phase 2 of HS2, Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “We remain concerned about the prospect of demolishing a brand new housing estate in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. Considerable amounts of money and time have gone into the construction of that estate, and it suggests that the government’s approach to infrastructure construction is disjointed.
“People who bought those properties did so under the impression that they would be able to live there for years, bringing up families and creating homes. We call on the government to fundamentally rethink its plans to ensure that the properties in Mexborough are saved and by doing so preserving homes for years to come.”