Since its launch, HS2 has been plagued with delays, cancellations, and protests. The project promises a high-speed rail network that will improve journey times from London to Manchester and Birmingham.
There are also plans for further phases of the project, which will see services to Glasgow and Edinburgh. However, a planned line to Leeds was canceled after the project ran into difficulties.
HS2 has seen a huge amount of environmental protest due to the damage it will inflict on the landscape, including ancient forests. Some protesters even took to camping on the proposed routes in an effort to stop construction.
READ MORE: Stoke-on-Trent named in the Sunday Times the best up-and-coming areas in the whole of the UK
But where does Stoke-on-Trent fit into all of this? The city is located on the West Coast Main Line, a main artery of the British rail network used to provide services from London to Manchester.
The West Coast Main Line is already one of the UK’s busiest lines. The mission of the HS2 part is to unclog this line by proposing an alternative route.
Will journey times to Stoke-on-Trent be improved?
Stoke-on-Trent station will not be among the stations included on the new line. However, HS2 services will travel to Stoke-on-Trent via a junction at Handsacre, near Lichfield, which will connect the HS2 line to the existing West Coast Main Line.
This is part of a new phase of the project called the Integrated Rail Plan. This will see HS2 lines link up with existing rail lines.
However, this will impact journey times for people traveling to Stoke-on-Trent from London Euston. Trains will run slower when using the West Coast Main Line link.
According to route planner according to the project website, a train from London Euston to Stoke-on-Trent would take an average of one hour and 10 minutes, around 14 minutes longer than the current service. However, the same predictor says the service from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly will take an hour and 11 minutes – 54 minutes faster than the current service.
While the planned route to Stoke-on-Trent will be quicker, the improvement pales in comparison to stations on the HS2 line itself. Stoke-on-Trent’s connection to its larger northern neighbors is also not expected to improve.
It will be part of a service running from London Euston to Macclesfield and will be operational from the opening of phase two of the project. It was originally scheduled to open in 2032-33, but has now been pushed back to 2035-40.
Services from London Euston to Macclesfield will run on the HS2 line until they reach the junction at Handsacre. They will then switch to the slower West Coast Main Line.
In summary, journey times to and from London and other HS2 stations will be improved. However, it does not look like there will be any significant changes to other services from Stoke-on-Trent, such as those to Manchester and Leeds.
How will the project boost Stoke-on-Trent?
Stoke-on-Trent companies are already working on the HS2 project. Wardell Armstrong was among the companies to win contracts, winning its first in 2018.
The company is described on the HS2 website as an “environmental, engineering and mining consultancy”. The company works on archaeology, ecology, engineering, health and safety, hydrogeology and tenders.
It currently has 13 offices, including a headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent. Since the initial contract, Wardell Armstrong has secured further deals worth £6million. It is one of 5,000 companies working on HS2 across the UK.
If you’re looking for local news, we’ve got you covered with our FREE email newsletter – sign up in the box at the top of this story or click here.