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.