The prospect of super-fast HS2 trains connecting north and south rumbles ever closer. For those in Cheshire, that means the opportunity to hop-aboard at Crewe (eventually). Forty-eight minutes to THAT London by 2033, if the hype is to be believed. I’ve spent that long getting to Nantwich (four miles) by bus once-upon-a-weary-journey ago!
So a stress-free jolly to the capital is pretty damn exciting. You’ll have chance to finish an over-priced coffee and browse perhaps half of your daily paper. Then BING-BONG… “We are now arriving at London Euston” will be music to commuter and day-trippers’ ears; easy! You’ll actually spend a full day at your destination, rather than a few hours either side of frustrating stop-start services that seems to crawl into every station that Mr Beeching once threatened to close.
All this daydreaming hinges on one potentially insurmountable hurdle – CASH! The numbers are scary. Worryingly, the £s involved range from forty to eighty billion pounds to complete to connect London with Manchester. Beyond to more northerly destinations is impossible to calculate. With some doomsters already warning of another economic “blip” in 2016 there’s every chance that completion of this century’s most ambitious engineering project will slip further into the future.
What HS2 has done is fuel dreams. In and around the Crewe-Warrington-Stoke triangle there is talk of new industry, swathes of quality homes being built and stunning areas of public open space being created. But it’s the opportunity for Crewe to regain its crown and return to prominence as a genuine railway hub that excites me. Moreover, the engineering and service jobs will lift the local economy and the knock-on rise in business confidence will transform the town.
In theory, Crewe has much to shout about; junction 16 of the M6 is nearby, a university link with MMU continues to flourish, an innovative University Technical College is about to welcome the engineering-technos of the future, and sales at the iconic Bentley Motors are booming. Crewe has every right to label itself the engine room of Cheshire.