HS alternative Manchester Piccadilly station, MCC, c Bennetts Associates

An underground station would enable housing and public realm delivery, according to the city council. Credit: Greig Penny Architecture

Here’s how an underground HS2 Piccadilly station’s entrance could look

Based on outline designs by Bennetts Associates, a new CGI showcases how Manchester City Council’s preferred station model could look at surface level.

Transport for Greater Manchester provided input on the CGI, which was created by Greig Penny Architecture for Manchester City Council.

It is hoped that the image will help strengthen the city council’s case against the government’s plans for an overground turnback station at Piccadilly. The image shows the public realm potential of the station, giving a taste of what the entrance of the station could look like for pedestrians. It is the result of an ongoing discussion between Manchester City Council and Bennetts on different station scenarios.

A potential vision for the station itself was developed by architecture firm Weston Williamson + Partners in 2020. Last year, the firm said that those proposals were “oven-ready” if the government wanted them.

The latest image release comes as Manchester City Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig prepares to speak in front of Parliament to advocate for a change in HS2 government policy.

Craig is expected to repeat her calls for an underground station, rather than an overground one, when she gives evidence this afternoon at Parliament’s High-Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill Select Committee.

An overground HS2 Piccadilly station would require the building of a concrete viaduct of up to six tracks wide. This viaduct would run from Ardwick to Piccadilly. This station would be at full capacity once Northern Powerhouse Rail services begin as well, according to Manchester City Council. It is also estimated to cost £5bn less than an underground station – and able to be delivered 13 years sooner, according to a report by HS2.

An underground through-station is the preferred design by the council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. They argue that an underground station would enable substantial investment in the Piccadilly area that could create housing and green space and, ultimately, support 14,000 jobs. An underground station could result in a local economic uplift of £333m a year, according to the city council.

“We are urging the government to learn from mistakes elsewhere and build the right station for Manchester that will better serve us for the next century,” Craig said. “Our railway system needs investment now and for the future.”

She added later: “But the current plan for an overground station that travels into the city on concrete stilts, with limited resilience and likely to be at full capacity from day one, is the wrong one.

“It might be cheaper in the short-term but this penny-wise, pound-foolish approach will cost the city and the North much more in missed opportunities,” she continued.

“We need to ‘build it right and build it once’ with an underground station, which increases capacity and connectivity for the whole of the North, while providing a world-class welcome to the heart of our city-region…

“An underground through-station is the only way to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and, by having it underground, we get to create more jobs and put more money back into the Manchester and UK economy.”

Craig concluded; “It also means we avoid unsightly concrete viaducts, the height of three double-decker buses, cutting through communities and prime city centre development land being swallowed.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham voiced his support for Craig’s appeal to Parliament.

“Getting better east-west connectivity is the single biggest transport policy priority not just in the North of England, but the whole country,” he said.

“Government needs to look at the bigger picture here, because this is a decision which shapes our future and they are at risk of getting it seriously wrong.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with Cllr Craig’s call for an underground station at Piccadilly because if we get the wrong solution, it will limit economic growth, limit opportunities for local businesses and people, and to leave us with the wrong railway for another century would be a hammer blow to levelling up our country.”

Parliament’s High-Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill Select Committee meets at 4pm. You can watch the proceedings live at parliamentlive.tv/Committees.

Your Comments

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Interesting that this is such an issue for the government. This looks like any overground station in London, with a concourse and an Underground beneath. If this scheme is not evidence that the North continues to be treated like a colony, I don’t know what is.

By Elephant

‘The Government needs to look at the bigger picture here’ Right there that’s the problem, governments rarely do and certainly not North of Watford regardless of what colour they are.

By Anonymous

If anyone thinks we don’t have a national infrastructure plan, in reality yes we do. It’s the inverse of what you’d expect however, being essentially opposition to any game changing investment outside the southern bubble.

By WayFay

We all know the Southservatives will never spend the amount required for a project outside of London. They promise the earth and give dirt.
Meanwhile the capital gets a £20 billion sewer pipe

By Bernard Fender

At long last thirty years late someone understands the fundamental flaw in thinking that has prevailed up to now. Have I really been the only one that realised that runnin HS2 to buffer stops at Store St meant either demolishing half the city centre to progress northwards or – well blow me down – a tunnel!!! And please Burnham – go to Specsavers and look at Blind Lane curve which we as blinkered old BRB we left with what is now Network Rail which could link Leeds Bradford and Rochdale to Piccadilly without crossing the entire approach, and with imagination provide an alternative route to Stockport and even the airport. I might have grey hair – but I can still outplay the blinkered voices playing follow my leader!

By Frank Gradwell

The existing Piccadilly Station is already built on a Viaduct so where does this CGI propose the above ground concourse is located?

By Bentley Driver

Does anyone know where this view is taken from?

By Confused...

HS2 was Johnson,s unwanted vanity project. It is time it was scrapped now that he has gone. We do not want or need HS2, but we do need Powerhouse Rail

By Anonymous

Of course the rail route should go underground. This would allow for a proper, modern through station. It’s not Victorian England any more. Modern stations are built as through stations these days. It is so much more logical. This was also, a proper East West NPR link could be built, so the underground line would get double the use and be even more effective. Building a terminus will not only slow this right down, but restrict it to just a cut down version of HS2.

By Jo

Northern Powerhouse Rail is the priority now, along with reopening smaller lines.


I was in London and the south east a couple of weeks ago. The overground and underground systems are ‘ space age’ compared to the North West.
Money there appears to be no object for example the new Elizabethan Line.
Greater Manchester councils, GMPTE, the local MPs should be fighting tooth and nail to get this underground station for HS2.
We don’t want a repetition of the platform fiasco at Oxford road and Piccadilly after ten years.
In reply to those who don’t want HS2 get over it. It’s coming to Manchester City centre and the sooner the better. What’s needed is to get the best solution for the City and region.

By Peter Chapman

Whatever happens, Gateway House needs to go

By Anonymous

I can see this all being academic because this or the next Government will cancel HS2 going beyond Birmingham.

By Anonymous

In total agreement an underground station will offer far wider social & economic benefits to the centre of Manchester. Question is why does Manchester not offer to meet the extra cost of £5bn??

By Risk Manager

This HS2 scheme is an absolute joke. The government needs to seriously start taking things seriously because this has to be built no matter what. Like previous comments, if it such a hassle to get it built to the city centre at least let it get built towards Stockport or even the airport. This will be somewhat of a progress. Whatever the case may be, this route to Manchester has to be built!!!!!

By Anonymous

Let’s get HS2 built, and let’s invest for the future! Build it underground, ensure there is the space for 400m, double decker trains and allow the trains to go on to Leeds. To many NIMBYs and people who aren’t willing to invest for the future.


Looks really good, credit to the architect and hope it has an impact

By Anonymous

‘The Government will cancel HS2 north of Birmingham’ ..? That argument has long been shunted into the sidings. it’s coming to Manchester like it or not. The bit that’s unlikely to come sadly is the underground station. Pity, it makes far more sense.

By Anonymous

When is a final decision regarding this expected by the government?

By Verticality

Time to accept the reality of our lower position in the new world order. This is not for us as we don’t have competent political leadership.

By Paulie

Yes, the city leaders must, must, must fight this decision until Manchester gets what it wants…no ifs or buts..

By Rodders

Oh I think our Leaders will fight for what is right and fair for the North . We are not lesser cities, this is where things actually happen.

By Tom

I think Paulie the incompetent leadership is well known elsewhere , I’m sure we all know where 😉.

By Anonymous

On first impressions, it looks decent (maybe its the use of brick). Sadly I’m unconvinced the ‘London Mafia’
are going to give us what we want and desperately need.

By MrP

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