New overground HS2 train station at Manchester Piccadilly is the ‘wrong plan’: Andy Burnham
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Under government plans, a new station at Piccadilly is due to be built overground as part of the high-speed network.
The bill to extend HS2 to Manchester will be put before Parliament today.
But the overground station plan has attracted a number of criticisms from local politicians who think it would be disruptive during construction and take up too much prime land - with one even dubbing the concrete struts ‘HS2 on stilts.’
Mr Burnham said today: “We remain committed to working with the Government to bring HS2 to our city-region. But we remain of the view that this is the wrong plan, both for Greater Manchester and for the North as a whole.
“Building HS2 on the surface at Manchester Piccadilly means the new station will be at full capacity from day one. It means the new train services from Liverpool and Leeds having to reverse out. And it also means forever losing prime development land and the economic opportunity that goes with it.
“We also again have to ask again: why is Greater Manchester the only part of the country being asked to make a substantial financial contribution to the cost of HS2?
“We believe there is a better plan which would do much more to level up the North of England with the South. An underground station would be an investment in building a bigger Northern economy and would pay for itself over time. It could also help deliver an entirely new line between Manchester and Leeds, which is what we were promised.
“We call on the Government to listen to the North and work with us to get right solution. This decision will have a huge bearing on the future of the North for the rest of this century and the next and it is vital that it is not sold short. We will be pressing the case for major changes to the Bill and seeking the support of MPs on all sides.”
His call comes after city council leader Bev Craig last week dubbed the new overground plans ‘unsightly’ and said she would ask the Government to have a rethink.
What has the Government said?
The Government has previously snubbed call from local Labour politicians to make it an underground station.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons in November: “It’s the case that we need to spend money, we can only spend the same money once, we can only spend it as wisely as possible. If you spend £6bn or £7bn building the station underground at Manchester, you then take away from Liverpool, or Leeds, or Hull, or some of the other places who are calling for money.”