Action stations

Regeneration of the area around Piccadilly station is also central to the development of HS2. Following the Government’s announcement regarding the development of the Phase 2 section of HS2, Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester appointed architecture firm Bennetts Associates to look into the potential of the scheme. Their study revealed that construction of HS2 into Manchester could bring about the following benefits in relation to the regeneration of the area surrounding the new station:

  • The connectivity associated with a best-in-class multimodal transport hub
  • The construction of up to 4,500 new homes
  • 625,000 square metres of commercial office space
  • 100,000 square metres of retail space
  • 1,000 new hotel rooms
  • The creation of numerous high-quality public spaces
  • A range of cultural and community buildings

These positives should be compared with the negatives - a total of 48 residential properties will need to be demolished. It is also estimated that 1,900 jobs will be displaced from business premises, which will need to be relocated away from the path of the new line. In mitigation, it is also expected that most of the companies and people affected will be able to relocate to other areas of Manchester or the surrounding region. 

Economic studies carried out by the Government have estimated that Manchester will benefit from station-supported creation of at least 30,000 jobs, 29,700 of which will be created around Manchester Piccadilly, and the other 300 from the construction of a new station at Manchester Airport, in Phase 2. More optimistic sources predict as many as 45,000 new jobs.

Part of the redevelopment work associated with the preparations for HS2 is the transformation of the Mayfield area of Manchester, which lies on the opposite side of NR’s Piccadilly station to the proposed HS2 station. 

Manchester’s long-closed Mayfield station is located within this area and the station closed to passengers in 1960, but was retained for use by parcels traffic until 1986. Ever since, the station has stood as a decaying reminder of its former role, even though it is located in an area which has been ripe for redevelopment.

Now owned by London and Continental Railways, Mayfield station and the surrounding area is to be transformed into a mixed-use development for retail, office and entertainment spaces, along with the construction of more than 1,330 new homes, under the Piccadilly Strategic Regeneration Framework. 

The commercial aspect of the Piccadilly SRF anticipates that the Mayfield development will also provide over 6,500 new jobs for Manchester, further boosting the local economy of the city. 

Construction of the line into Manchester is expected to take nine years to complete, although work on the station itself at Piccadilly should be completed within six. Under current timeframes it is hoped that testing on the route will begin in 2031/32, with public services starting the following year. 

Probably the biggest benefit of HS2, aside from providing much-improved journey times on existing lines, is the increase in capacity the new line will bring to the existing NR network. According to HS2 Ltd, the new line will carry 300,000 people on its services each day, with up to 18 trains an hour departing from London Euston by 2033. 

Not all passengers will choose to travel on the HS2 route, but it is anticipated that the completion of the line will free up some capacity on the existing NR network, which will benefit freight traffic. It will also allow for the introduction of new services. 

The development of HS2 between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly should certainly free up some capacity on the heavily-congested West Coast Main Line route. 

While the completion date of 2032/33 still seems a long way off, the complicated nature of the line’s construction makes it one of the biggest civil engineering projects to have been undertaken in the UK. 

The construction of HS2 is one of the most exciting projects in UK railway history, and Manchester is getting itself ready for the wave of prosperity it will bring. ν

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