The consultation on the expansion of Manchester’s Piccadilly and Airport stations and an extra rail connection from Crewe to the North are among a range of measures being proposed by HS2 Ltd to facilitate better journeys between the North and Midlands.
The government is seeking views on plans for the design of HS2’s Western Leg between Crewe and Manchester.
HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are an integral part of this country’s future rail network, vital for improving connections between our biggest cities and regions, boosting jobs and kickstarting economic growth as we build back better.
“This consultation will ensure passengers and business have their say in delivering a rail network that meets their needs, providing better journeys across the Midlands and the North as quickly as possible.”
The outcome of the consultation will also inform the development of the hybrid bill for HS2’s Western Leg before it’s introduced in parliament in early 2022.
Transport for the North has said the expansion must improve east west connections across the Pennines. Under its own current plans, HS2 and NPR would share 80km of rail infrastructure.
Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North, said: "It is good to see proposals for HS2 moving forwards, as the North has waited too long for the new investment it needs in high speed rail lines found elsewhere in Europe. Together, the two projects will form the backbone of a futureproof rail network for our region.
“But we must ensure that this investment allows for benefits to be shared equally across the North. Northern Powerhouse Rail relies on parts of HS2 infrastructure being built to run its trains too. Therefore it is vital the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan commits to bringing forward plans for the HS2 eastern leg connecting the Midlands with Yorkshire, including Sheffield and Leeds, and getting spades in the ground in the North as soon as possible.
“HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, delivered together in full, would tackle head-on the productivity gap between the North and the South, and provide the modern, fit-for-purpose railway the North so badly needs.”