The Town Council wishes to respond to the Cheshire East Council request for feedback in relation to the local implications of its support for the HS2 project. The Town Council understands that in simple terms Cheshire East anticipates:
1) HS2 will go ahead. The Town Council agrees with that position and wishes to ensure that all HS2 trains can stop at Crewe and not simply just services to Liverpool.
2) That a new station will be built in the Basford area on a ‘Parkway’ style model. The Town Council sees merit in this idea if the station is a dedicated HS2 station, but not if such a development is detrimental to the Town of Crewe by reducing direct connectivity from the existing Crewe Station. Any site chosen should not sterilise land that could be utilised for the development of employment sites.
3) That Crewe Station will be downgraded to potentially a simple tram stop. The Town Council object to this and would wish to see the main line station remain where it is with no reduction in the level of direct connectivity.
4) The introduction of tram based services connecting new halts in the Town to the station and the HS2 hub station. The Town Council welcomes this imaginative idea and sees merit in providing links to the Town Centre and to employment sites such as Bentley. The Council urges caution and would wish to see more information to confirm such services would be utilised by the public.
5) That new bus routes will be established to support the general transportation infrastructure. The Council supports the introduction of viable routes that add to the ability of people to travel in and around Crewe without the use of a motor vehicle.
6) An integrated approach to transport in Crewe. The Town Council welcomes a thought through integrated strategy, but can see no evidence of such a strategy in place and suggests that such a plan should be the priority prior to the publication of the detailed information. In effect the Council believes a solution has been identified to meet the opportunity of HS2 without the necessary rigour of a formal integrated transport policy having been produced.
7) A proposal for a hub station including facilities for parking provision but provides little information about any overall reduction in car usage and pollution. The Town Council would wish to see any proposal include adequate park and ride facilities. If this is to be linked up via a tram system then will the road infrastructure be adequate to ensure traffic does not clog the Town on its way to the park and ride facility?
8) Enhanced provision for bus services. The Town Council would wish to see better utilisation of the existing bus station site in Crewe Town Centre and would welcome its redevelopment or relocation as part of an integrated strategy.
9) Multi modal travel options which raises questions on integrated ticketing arrangements that allow users to use different modes of transport on the same ticket. The Town Council would wish to see integrated ticketing and a pricing policy that provides a financial incentive to utilise a new transport network. The Council does not believe the project would be a success if the pricing structure is such that the cumulative cost of parking, tram and bus are greater than the current costs of driving to Crewe and parking in the Town.
The Council has great concerns due to the lack of consultation on this proposal and would welcome sight of the detailed analysis and business case documents that underpin the thinking behind the proposals. The Council also notes that Cheshire East has provided only one option and queries whether wider initial consultation might have led to a broader debate and range of options.
The Council wishes to see the ambitions for Crewe met and it is vital that the connectivity and rail heritage for which the Town is rightly famous is not lost. The Council recognises that what might be good for the wider region and indeed South Cheshire may have negative consequences for the town of Crewe. The net benefits and consequences for the area need to be expressed in a more open and challengeable way.
The Council questions the figures produced so far in terms of the net benefits of the proposals and would wish to see the evidence and assumptions lying behind these numbers.
Any such integrated transport proposals must also facilitate easier access via walking and cycling routes. It should also seek to address the pinch points created by the various bridges in the Town which restrict traffic flow in the Town.
The Council also raises more detailed questions as follows:
- The halts to be created would appear to be on the light rail tramlink and alongside the heavy rail West Coast Main Line or HS2. Is this the case or is the suggestion that they are on the heavy rail line?
- Who will finance the tram link to the proposed halts?
- Are the proposed halts in the right place? Do they enable people to travel from where they live or do they have to come into Crewe (to the existing station) to then get a tram out to say Bentley? How would that encourage its use? Are the most disadvantaged areas of the Town adequately covered by the Plan?
- What will happen to the existing Crewe Station which is spread across the West Coast Mainline and has multiple platforms? How is the recent £6m investment in the station to be carried forward if it is not to be a mainline station?
- Will the integrated approach include development of a policy designed to reduce the use of motor vehicles in the Town?