THE Government has reiterated plans to bring forward the construction of high speed rail to Crewe sooner than planned, the Transport Secretary has revealed.

In a keynote speech in Leeds, Patrick McLoughlin confirmed construction for High Speed 2 (HS2) is on track to start in 2017.

He also indicated again that Crewe could become the first northern hub for HS2 before the 250mph service continues to Manchester to form a new super-fast link across the Pennines.

The Secretary of State said boosting growth in the north and creating a 'Northern Powerhouse' were a vital part of the long-term economic plan.

“I want to see if we can bring HS2 to Crewe faster than planned, subject to further analysis and a decision on the preferred route,” Mr McLoughlin said.

“I’m determined to deliver the benefits to the north as fast as possible. So I’ll prepare a dedicated Hybrid Bill in this Parliament.”

The HS2 hybrid Bill committee will soon continue Parliamentary scrutiny of the bill for phase one of the project, between London and Birmingham.

Though the final route has yet to be decided, but the Council is delighted the transport Secretary called for HS2 to be ‘fast tracked’.

Mr McLoughlin also revealed the Conservative government will invest £13 billion to transform transport infrastructure in the north over the next five years.

He said: “Nothing is more important to this government than a healthy economy which benefits all working people.

“It means rebalancing our economy and building the Northern Powerhouse. We will not waste a moment getting on with the task.”

The news has been welcomed by Cheshire East Council leader Michael Jones, who called the announcement a ‘game changer’.

Cllr Jones said: “This is fantastic news and a real game changer – not just for Crewe and Cheshire East, but for Stoke, North Staffordshire and the whole region.

“The benefits to Crewe and the surrounding area would be massive in terms of jobs and the economy – but we want to share the growth and benefits with our neighbours.”

The entire project is estimated to be worth some £3.5 billion a year to the south Cheshire sub-regional area economy.

Cllr Jones added: “The hub station in Crewe would act as the gateway to the Northern Powerhouse and HS2 promises to bring a second railway revolution to the town and utterly transform its economic prospects.

“Now we need to get on with working together with our neighbouring authorities to secure the benefits for all.”