HS2 Manchester Bill begins journey through Parliament
A Bill which would authorise a further 84km of High Speed 2 is to be scrutinised by MPs. The Bill as published will extend HS2 from Crewe to Manchester, including new stations at Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly, completing Phase 2b of the western leg. HS2 Ltd CEO Mark Thurston said the Bill ‘is a vote of confidence in HS2’s ability to help towns and cities in the North realise their economic potential’, while Maria Machancoses CEO of Midlands Connect said: ‘This is another watershed moment in the future of our high speed railway.’ and Railway Industry Association chief executive Darren Caplan said: ‘It is encouraging to see the bill for HS2’s Western Leg deposited in Parliament today.’ However, Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh responded: ‘This Bill represents a monumental missed opportunity to drive growth and investment. The rail betrayal will hit millions of people, and leave swathes of the North and the Midlands in the slow lane for decades to come.’
Another town enters Great British Railways race
The Buckinghamshire new town of Milton Keynes is the latest place to join the competition to host the headquarters of Great British Railways. Contenders already on the list include York, Doncaster and Derby. Milton Keynes includes the railway town of Wolverton, and was also chosen by Network Rail when it built a new headquarters outside London ten years ago. The town was founded in 1967 and named after an existing village. The population is now more than 230,000. Council leader Pete Marland said: ‘Milton Keynes is an obvious contender to be the home of Britain’s railways. As well as our rich railway heritage, we have so much to offer a modern organisation.’
Class 175 refurbishment completed
Transport Wales has welcomed the refurbishment of 27 Alstom-built Class 175 units, which were first introduced on the route to Holyhead by the former First North Western franchise at the start of the present century. The refurbishment was carried out by Alstom at its centre in Widnes. Work to refurbish TfW’s Class 153 and 158 fleets is nearing completion, and work is also underway to refurbish Class 150 Sprinters.
Hull Trains restores services
Hull Trains is restoring two services to its timetable earlier than expected, following the relaxation of Covid restrictions in England. Hull Trains had cut back its timetable on 27 December, when there were fears that there could be a new Covid lockdown as a result of the more infectious Omicron variant. The journeys now being restored are the 17.08 from Hull to London King’s Cross, and the 20.30 London King’s Cross to Hull.