Alternative to Northern Powerhouse Rail Unveiled, Where Have we Seen that Before?

New Civil Engineer

An alternative Northern rail proposal has been tabled which would link High Speed 2 (HS2) and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) and include underground stations in major cities such as Leeds and Manchester.

The Trans-Britain Railway plan – put forward by Expedition Engineering and architects Weston Williamson & Partners (WW&P) – emphasises the opportunity to combine the northern section of HS2 (phase 2) and NPR to deliver “real value”.

The scheme proposes a single integrated railway north of Crewe that achieves the objectives of both projects in “a more efficient and affordable manner”.

Expedition Engineering director Alistair Lenczner explained: “We’re totally in agreement with the objective of HS2 and NPR but we think there’s a better way of doing it as a single joined up project.

“We’re imagining that, north of Crewe, the Trans-Britain Railway would bring together all the objectives of HS2 and NPR into one integrated project which is a more cost-effective solution and better value for money.”

Didn’t I post very similar proposals here. Though therenis no premium on originality as I partially based them on the Network North Proposal.

Lets look at the components.

The railway would allow train services to travel from Manchester towards Crewe on HS2 infrastructure and towards Preston on HS2 and Network Rail infrastructure. Initially terminating at Liverpool Lime Street, it would eventually run into a new underground through station in central Liverpool, allowing onward connectivity to Southport.

Great, just as I proposed. They also suggest a stop at Warrington Bank Quay, which I dont think can justify a new underground station as the local authority wants, rather utilise the existing disused line at a small price in speed.

In terms of the current HS2 and NPR proposals, both companies believe a through station at Manchester Piccadilly would be a better option than the currently-proposed terminus station.

This is a concept also reflected in the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC)’s Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and North – published in December 2020 – which says that through stations “offer better connectivity, capacity and operational efficiency in city centres than terminus stations”.

Expedition and WW&P have already put forward a proposal for an underground through station at Manchester Piccadilly, and the new Trans-Britain Railway proposal includes plans for a similar underground through station at Leeds.

My proposal is a far cheaper deep cutting rather than underground station perpendicular to the existing Piccadilly Station to avoid the bizarre kink in the route.

At Leeds they propose a parallell through station, exactly as I proposed. Though I proposed an approach on existing disused ines. There design is nice.

The new Leeds station would be integrated alongside the existing Network Rail station, providing services to destinations such as Manchester, Liverpool and Preston in the west, and York, Hull and Newcastle to the North and East. It would also offer up to four high speed trains per hour to London via Manchester.

Its platforms would be constructed underground within a box parallel to the existing platforms of the Network Rail station. The construction of the box would allow high speed trains to pass below the River Aire, accommodated in a new culvert.

The new station could also encourage further development of the waterfront, supporting the broader vision of a sustainable city and making the most of the city’s historic and natural assets.

“You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression,” Lenczner said. “This is a chance for people to arrive in Leeds, come out of the station and the first thing they see is river frontage and the River Aire.”

The only major difference is I suggest a more southerly tunnel for NPR – utilising the Woodhead tunnel. This takes 10 minutes off the journey times to Sheffield, and saving 6 billion on tunneling under Bradford.