...and still claims the new divisive pick-up charge is to 'ease congestion'

The role of HS2 as a political hot topic shows no sign of cooling down this week as the CEO of Manchester Airports Group met with the CEO of HS2 Ltd to call for the Government to commit to funding the development of a high-speed railway to Manchester Airport.

Charlie Cornish (MAG), met with Mark Thurston (HS2) on Friday at Manchester Airport to discuss progress on the development of the line to Manchester and the proposed station at Manchester Airport. 

The HS2 line to Manchester will be an important milestone in the journey to creating better transport links, and vital to rebalancing the UK economy

Cornish is currently chairing the Manchester Airport Station Board, working with HS2, the Government and other stakeholders to agree plans for a station that, according to the group’s press release, 'will help unlock benefits for the North and the rest of the UK.

According to their recent advertising campaign, more than 60% of business travel across the north goes through Manchester Airport. The proposed concept has been compared to the links between Schipol Airport and the rest of the Netherlands and beyond.

2019 08 13 Maghs2
Charlie Cornish, CEO, Manchester Airport Group with HS2 CEO Mark Thurston MAG

Charlie Cornish, CEO, MAG said: "The positive discussions we’ve had today demonstrate the benefits we all see of having improved rail links to the North. A hub station at Manchester Airport will be vital, helping us expand further our network of international routes, which connect people and businesses to destinations all over the world, attracting inward investment to the Northern and UK economy.

"What we need to talk about now is how we’re going to ensure this HS2 line will link up with Northern Powerhouse Rail to ensure the whole of the North can benefit, of which the Manchester to Leeds line announced by the Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago is just the start.

"It is imperative that both of these lines are delivered, connected by a hub station at Manchester Airport, to ensure the benefits of both lines are available to the widest section of the North’s population and business community. The HS2 line to Manchester will be an important milestone in the journey to creating better transport links, and vital to rebalancing the UK economy."

2019 08 13 Manchester Airport Checkin
Check in at Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport is slated to double its capacity over the next few years and a decent rail link that avoided bottle-necking traffic through Manchester Piccadilly would complement these plans. However, the plan has been criticised from an environmental perspective. HS2 was meant to reduce the reliance on air travel and improve rail connections with Europe to allow people to conveniently travel abroad without flying, and a focus on an airport-rail hub seems in direct opposition to this point.

Further problems have been noted with the funding for HS2, which has already risen in cost from £32bn to £56bn. In a recent article, Jonathan Schofield called for a significant revision of plans, instead urging planners to focus resources on HS3: 'The government should ditch HS2 right now and divert all the money to the so-called HS3 (or Northern Powerhouse Rail), from Liverpool via Manchester and Leeds to Hull, with a spur to Sheffield and options to Newcastle.'

Manchester Airport has also been in the news recently as it was found that it has the most expensive drop-off charges per minute in the UK. Figures showed it costs £3 to park for five minutes while dropping off a passenger; that's 60p a minute. The airport claims that this charge is intended to reduce traffic congestion around the airport.

Proposed HS2 services in Manchester

Manchester Airport from:

  • London - current time 144 minutes. HS2 time 63 minutes.

Manchester Piccadilly to:

  • Birmingham Interchange - current time 106 minutes. HS2 time 37 minutes.
  • Birmingham - current time 88 minutes. HS2 time 40 minutes.
  • London - current time 127 minutes. HS2 time 67 minutes.