It is reported this week that a multi-million pound plan is being drawn up to transform North Staffordshire’s rail network – including relocating Stoke station.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is to lobby the Government to try to get the extra investment needed as a result of the impact of HS2 over the next 25 years.
Work has started on creating a transport document to better connect Stoke-on-Trent to the rest of North Staffordshire and other major UK cities.
The document outlining the wish list will be handed over to the Government in the next two months.
It comes after Chancellor George Osborne gave his ‘personal commitment’ that Stoke-on-Trent would benefit from the HS2 through the Northern Gateway Partnership, despite Crewe being chosen for the stop.
The cost of the project – estimated to take 20 years to complete – will not be known until more concrete plans have been drawn up. However, it would be funded through Government grants and private sector contributions. In other words, local or central taxpayers, or both will be expected to meet the bill.
Although reference is made to private sector contributions, after four years, interest from this source has been virtually non-existent. With rising costs and diminishing returns the attractiveness of the HS2 project to private sector funding is very unlikely to improve.
Previously, the city council spent £801,531 on developing and marketing its plans for the ‘Stoke Route’. Despite its efforts Crewe was chosen.
To achieve wider economic benefits HS2 will require substantial investment in connectivity infrastructure, which remains uncosted and unfunded.
The efforts of cities such as Stoke to be part of the HS2 vision do provide us with an early glimpse of the scale of the wish list that will surround the scheme over the coming years.
As Sir David Higgins told the Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee last year the HS2 budget gets you the line and the rolling stock.