HS2 in Manchester: Tameside leader ‘dismayed’ by HS2 plan which would ‘sever’ Ashton tram line

It comes as Greater Manchester leaders discussed a government consultation on plans for the HS2 line.

Tameside Council had ‘no idea’ that the new high speed rail link would ‘sever’ the Ashton tram line until a week before the plans were put to Parliament.

Council leader Brenda Warrington expressed her ‘dismay’ that developing the new HS2 line could see Metrolink services to Ashton suspended for two years.

The Labour councillor spoke of the potential economic disadvantage the borough would face and the ‘significant negative impact’ on its ambitions.

The comments came as Greater Manchester’s council leaders discussed a government consultation on plans for the HS2 line which would pass through Wigan, Trafford and Manchester and could affect services in Stockport.

Ashton Tram Stop. Photo: Google Maps.

Coun Warrington told those at a Greater Manchester Combined Authority meeting on Friday (11 February) that she is ‘very strongly against’ the plans.

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She said: “I must on behalf of Tameside put on record, frankly, my dismay at the potential economic disadvantage that the severance of the Metrolink line would put us to.

“Whether it is for two years – it’s more likely, I would say, a lot longer than that – it would have a significant negative impact on our ambitions for growth within Tameside.

“We seem to be in a position of having no real benefit of HS2, but all of the pain of HS2 and I see that as grossly unfair.

“We will definitely be petitioning against this bill.”

What is the bill background then?

The HS2 Hybrid Bill for Phase 2b between Crewe and Manchester was put before MPs on 24 January and is still going through the parliamentary process.

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During the construction period, tram services on the Ashton-under-Lyne to Eccles route would be suspended while ‘Metrolink realignment works’ are carried out to allow for completion of the station concourse and fit-out works.

There would be a temporary track and ‘turn back’ created at Piccadilly for a period of two years until the new Piccadilly Metrolink stop is fully functional.

However, Coun Warrington said there was ‘no discussion’ between Tameside council and HS2 about the impact the plans would have on Metrolink services.

Responding to criticism when the plans were first revealed, a spokesperson for HS2 said that subject to the passage of the Bill, Metrolink realignment works are not expected to begin until at least 2024, and they intend to limit disruption to Metrolink to ‘as short a duration as is reasonably practicable’.

A replacement bus service between Ashton and Piccadilly Gardens would be in operation before the new Piccadilly Metrolink stop becomes fully functional.

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What has been said in response?

The HS2 spokesperson said: “We are committed to minimising disruption for Metrolink passengers and continue to work closely with Transport for Greater Manchester to plan for HS2’s programme of construction works.

“Construction works will be phased to limit disruption, with single line operation and/or replacement bus services put in place to ensure that passengers retain access to Metrolink routes.

Proposals for the Crewe – Manchester extension of the HS2 network include provision for new Metrolink stops at the new Manchester Piccadilly and Airport Stations, enhancing connectivity to HS2 and future NPR services.

“We encourage communities to have their say on the proposals and respond to the public consultation on the Environmental Statement by 31 March 2022.”