High Speed 2
High Speed 2 (HS2) is a planned high-speed railway in the United Kingdom. Parliament approved plans for the first section in 2017, with clearance work being undertaken for the line and stations. Other sections await approval, while some sections will have design amendments to integrate with Northern Powerhouse Rail.
|High Speed 2|
Planned new High Speed 2 track
|Status||Under construction |
Phase 1 target dates:
Phases 2A & 2B target dates:
|Locale||Phase 1: Greater London|
and West Midlands
Phase 2: North West and Yorkshire
|Termini||New 362 km/h (225 mph) track:|
Phase 1: London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street
Phase 2B: Manchester Piccadilly
Classic 201 km/h (125 mph) track:
Phase 1: Liverpool Lime Street, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central
Phase 2B: Newcastle
|Stations||21 in total of existing and new termini and through stations. |
Phase 1, three
Phase 2A, one
Phase 2B, three.
|Line length||Phase 1, new track:|
140 miles (230 km)
Phases 1 and 2A & 2B, new track:
330 miles (530 km)
|Number of tracks||Double track|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Loading gauge||UIC GC|
|Electrification||25 kV AC overhead|
|Operating speed||320 km/h (200 mph) (normal cruising speed).|
High Speed 2
On 21 August 2019, the government announced that it was commissioning an independent review of the project. The review is being chaired by Douglas Oakervee, the ex-chairman of HS2, with terms of reference published by the DfT. Work on the project will proceed as normal while the review is undertaken.
HS2 is intended to link 21 destinations – Birmingham, Birmingham airport, Carlisle, Chesterfield, Crewe, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Manchester airport, Newcastle, Old Oak Common in London, Oxenholme, Penrith, Preston, Sheffield, Warrington and York – on a mixture of existing and new high-speed track. The existing 200 km/h (125 mph) high-speed tracks are referred to as classic tracks. The spine of the network is new dedicated 362 km/h (225 mph) track, being approximately double the speed of existing high-speed classic tracks, which will directly serve Birmingham, Birmingham Airport, Crewe, the East Midlands, Leeds, London, Manchester, Manchester airport and Old Oak Common. A new dedicated fleet of trains with wider cars, capable of higher speeds, called "captive" trains, will operate only on the newly built higher speed spine. A second fleet of trains, called "classic compatible", will be capable of operating on classic and the new higher speed spine.
Scheduled to open in phases between 2026 and 2033, HS2 will be the second high-speed rail line in Britain capable of speeds above 186 mph (299 km/h), the first being High Speed 1 (HS1), which connects London to the Channel Tunnel, commissioned in the mid-2000s. There are no plans to connect HS1 to HS2 directly.
When complete, the spine of HS2, the new high speed track, will be shaped like a letter "Y" with London at the base, Birmingham at the split, Leeds at top right, and Manchester top left. The top left of the "Y", the northwest, will extend to Glasgow and Edinburgh using the existing high speed West Coast Main Line operating at much lower speeds. The top right of the "Y", the northeast, will extend to Newcastle using the existing high speed East Coast Main Line, again operating at much lower speeds. HS2 trains will leave the new high speed spine at Crewe running onto the conventional speed WCML spur to Liverpool. HS2 trains will branch off the new HS2 spine at Clay Cross in Derbyshire, running onto the slower high speed tracks of the Midland Main Line to Sheffield then returning to the HS2 spine north of Sheffield.
The two phases of the new high speed track project are:
- Phase 1 – from London to the West Midlands, with the first services scheduled for 2028.
- Phase 2 – from the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester, scheduled for full completion by 2035.
Phase 2 is split into two sub-phases:
- Phase 2a – from the West Midlands to Crewe, with the first services scheduled for 2027.
- Phase 2b – from Crewe to Manchester, and from the West Midlands to Leeds, with the first services scheduled for 2033.
HS2 is being developed by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, a private company limited by guarantee established by the UK government. In July 2017, decisions on the full "Y" route were approved by Parliament, and the complete project is estimated to cost £56 billion. Construction of Phase 1 began in 2017.
High-speed rail arrived in the United Kingdom with the opening in 2003 of the first part of High Speed 1 (then known as the 108 km (67 mi) Channel Tunnel Rail Link) between London and the Channel Tunnel. The assessment of the case for a second high-speed line was proposed in 2009 by the DfT under the Labour government, which was to be developed by a new company, High Speed Two Limited (HS2 Ltd).
Following a review by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition, a route was opened to public consultation in December 2010, based on a Y-shaped route from London to Birmingham with branches to Leeds and Manchester, as originally put forward by the previous Labour government, with alterations designed to minimise the visual, noise, and other environmental impacts of the line.
In January 2012 the Secretary of State for Transport announced that HS2 would go ahead in two phases and the legislative process would be achieved through two hybrid bills. The High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Act 2017 authorising the construction of Phase 1 passed both Houses of Parliament and received Royal Assent in February 2017. A Phase 2a High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) bill, seeking the power to construct Phase 2 as far as Crewe and make decisions on the remainder of the Phase 2b route, was introduced in July 2017.
Calls for reappraisal
In November 2018, Andrea Leadsom MP questioned the viability of the project at a meeting of the all-party parliamentary rail group. In response, HS2 suggested some changes to the project, to keep it within budget. These included: reducing train speeds by 30 mph (50 km/h), reducing the frequency from 18 to 14 trains per hour and changing from slab track to ballasted track. CEO Mark Thurston was quoted as saying: "If, at some point in the future, we are instructed to consider any of these options, then more detailed work on the effect of such changes would of course take place...".
In May 2019, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee recommended moving the London terminus to Old Oak Common. The committee also recommended an urgent new appraisal of the business case for HS2, and that the Government and HS2 Ltd should publish an analysis of possible cost saving from lowering the maximum operating speed of HS2, and publish a full business case by the end of 2019.
In June 2019, Boris Johnson appointed former HS2 chairman Douglas Oakervee to "have a look at the business case" for the project and "think about whether and how we proceed". The move was criticised by the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Andy McDonald.
Possible South Yorkshire Hub
Changes were made to the eastern leg of the HS2 "Y" route through South Yorkshire, with Meadowhall on the outskirts of Sheffield being dropped from the scheme. The city of Sheffield will be served directly to its centre at Sheffield Midland station via the Midland Main Line classic track. A spur will be created by a branch off the main HS2 track at Clay Cross onto the Midland Main Line via Chesterfield, branching back onto HS2 track east of Grimethorpe, north of Sheffield.
There are suggestions for a new 'South Yorkshire Hub' station to be built to replace Meadowhall. The proposal is a future hub, loosely called South Yorkshire Parkway, near Thurnscoe, Rotherham or Dearne Valley. The plans were backed by Sir David Higgins, then head of HS2 Ltd, in December 2016.
The Transport Document, released in July 2016, stated:
- As mentioned above, I also believe that HS2 should carry out a study to make recommendations to the Secretary of State on the potential for a parkway station on the M18/Eastern leg route which could serve the South Yorkshire area as a whole.
Sites being considered include: Bramley in Rotherham, South Yorkshire; Clayton in Doncaster, South Yorkshire; Fitzwilliam in Wakefield, West Yorkshire; Hemsworth in Wakefield; Hickleton in Doncaster; Hooton Roberts in Rotherham; Mexborough in Doncaster; and Wales in Rotherham.
In July 2017, MPs called for the government to build a parkway station on the planned HS2 route through South Yorkshire after the government confirmed HS2 would take the M18 Eastern Route. Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling confirmed in a letter to MP John Healey, the MP for Wentworth and Dearne, that a parkway station in South Yorkshire was under consideration and that Grayling and the other local MPs were making the case for a station.
In September 2017, there were further calls for a station in South Yorkshire, while HS2 Ltd said any new station would require a consultation and that they were still assessing the eight sites proposed in January 2017. Any new station would have to be near existing railway lines in order to provide the best benefits of HS2.
In December 2017, the chairman of HS2 ordered a decision on the parkway station in South Yorkshire to be made soon, and confirmed that only three options were being assessed. The decision will need to be made before a final decision in Parliament is made in 2019.
Phase 1 – London to the West Midlands
Phase 1 will create a new high-speed line between London and Birmingham by 2026. A high-speed link will also be provided to the existing West Coast Main Line (WCML) just north of Lichfield in Staffordshire, which will provide services to the North West of England and Scotland, in advance of later phases.
Four stations will be included on the route: the London and Birmingham City centre termini will be London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street, with interchanges at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange respectively.
From the London end, the route will enter a twin-bore tunnel at the Mornington Street bridge at Euston Station's throat. After continuing through the underground station at Old Oak Common, an 8-mile (13 km) tunnel follows until West Ruislip, where trains emerge to run on the surface. The line crosses the Colne Valley and the M25 on a viaduct, and then through a 9.8-mile (15.8 km) tunnel under the Chiltern Hills to emerge near South Heath, northwest of Amersham. It will run roughly parallel to the existing A413 road and the London to Aylesbury Line, to the west of Wendover in what HS2 call a 'green tunnel'. This is a cut-and-cover tunnel which has soil spread over the final construction, to enable it to be used for agriculture or amenity. After passing west of Aylesbury, the route will run along the corridor of the former Great Central Main Line, joining the former line north of Quainton Road to travel through rural North Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire up to Mixbury, south of Brackley from where will cross the A43 and open countryside through South Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. North of a bored tunnel under Long Itchington Wood, the route will pass through rural areas between Kenilworth and Coventry and cross the A46 to enter the West Midlands.
Birmingham Interchange station will be on the outskirts of Solihull, close to the strategic road network including the M42, M6, M6 toll and A45, Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre; the route will feature viaduct crossings of all these roads. North of the station, a triangular junction (known as the 'delta junction') west of Coleshill will link the HS2 Birmingham city centre spur with the line continuing north, from which Phase 2a and 2b will be developed. The northern limit for Phase 1 will be a connection onto the WCML near Lichfield. This part of the line would be operative with compatible high-speed trains moving onto the classic track WCML while the western leg of Phase 2 is being built.
In November 2015, the then Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that the HS2 line would be extended to Crewe by 2027, reducing journey times from London to Crewe by 35 minutes. The section from Lichfield to Crewe is a part of Phase 2a planned to be built simultaneously with Phase 1, effectively merging Phase 2a with Phase 1. The proposed Crewe Hub incorporating a station catering for high-speed trains will be built as part of Phase 2a.
Phase 2 – West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds
In November 2016, Phase 2 plans were approved by the government with the route confirmed. Phase 2 will create two branch lines from Birmingham running north either side of the Pennines creating a "Y" network. Phase 2 is split into two phases, 2a and 2b. Phase 2a is the section from Lichfield to Crewe on the western section of the "Y" and Phase 2b is the remainder of Phase 2.
- The western section:
- This section of the "Y" route extends north from Lichfield connecting to the northbound classic WCML at Bamfurlong south of Wigan taking services to Scotland, with a branch to the existing Manchester Piccadilly station. A branch on HS2 at High Legh in Cheshire will takes trains on classic track twenty-five miles (40 km) into Liverpool.
- The eastern section:
West Midlands to Crewe (Phase 2a)
This phase extends the line northwest to the Crewe Hub from the northern extremity of Phase 1, north of Lichfield. At Lichfield HS2 also connects to the West Coast Main Line. Opening a year after Phase 1, most of the construction of phase 2a will be in parallel with Phase 1. The House of Commons approved phase 2a in July 2019.
Crewe Hub (Phase 2a)
Crewe to Bamfurlong and Manchester (Phase 2b)
HS2 track continues north from Crewe with its end point at Bamfurlong south of Wigan where it branches into the WCML. As the line passes through Cheshire at Millington, it will branch to Manchester using a triangular junction. At this junction "passive provision" for a link to Liverpool will be constructed enabling the future construction of Northern Powerhouse Rail to link to the HS2 network. This will be provided for in the Hybrid Bill. The Manchester branch then veers east in a circuitous route around Tatton running past Manchester airport through a station at the airport, with the line then entering a 10-mile (16 km) tunnel, emerging at Ardwick where the line will continue to its terminus at Manchester Piccadilly.
West Midland to ECML and Leeds (Phase 2b)
East of Birmingham the Phase 1 line branches at Coleshill progressing north east roughly parallel to the M42 motorway, progressing north between Derby and Nottingham the line ends by branching into the northbound ECML south of York, projecting services to the North East of England and Scotland on a mixture of HS2 and classic tracks.
The line from Birmingham northeast bound incorporates the proposed East Midlands Hub located at Toton between Derby and Nottingham. The East Midlands Hub will serve Derby, Leicester and Nottingham. There will be a parallel spur to the northbound HS2 track using the classic track Midland Main Line from a branch at Clay Cross branching back onto HS2 track east of Grimethorpe. Chesterfield and Sheffield will be served by HS2 classic compatible trains being located on this spur. HS2 track will branch directly into a Leeds HS2 terminus.
The initial plan was for the line to serve Sheffield directly via a new raised station adjacent to Tinsley Viaduct, near to Meadowhall Interchange east of Sheffield as the line progresses north. This met with opposition from Sheffield Council, who lobbied for the line to be routed through Sheffield city centre. As a result, Sheffield will be accessed via a spur using existing classic tracks, to the benefit of Chesterfield which will gain a HS2 classic compatible service.
A branch will take the HS2 line to new high-speed platforms constructed onto the side of the existing Leeds station. Completion is scheduled for 2033.
Possible future phases – Liverpool/Newcastle/Scotland
There are no DfT proposals to extend high-speed lines north of Leeds to Newcastle, west of Manchester to Liverpool, or to Scotland via the west or east coast routes. High-speed trains will be capable of accessing some destinations off the high-speed lines using the existing slower speed tracks, using a mixture of high and low-speed tracks.
Liverpool was omitted from direct HS2 track access. The city of Liverpool in February 2016 offered £2 billion towards funding a direct HS2 line into Liverpool's city centre. The nearest proposed HS2 track will be 16 miles (26 km) from the city centre and 1 mile (1.6 km) to the nearest boundary of the Liverpool City Region.
TfN has examined two options that make use of HS2 to connect Manchester and Liverpool. Both options involve construction of a new line to Liverpool, and a junction onto the HS2 route. Under these options it would be possible to deliver NPR's ambitions for a 30-minute journey between Manchester and Liverpool, connecting the cities via Manchester Airport.
A "passive provision", namely a small section of additional HS2 track, would enable the future construction of Northern Powerhouse Rail to link to the HS2 network without disrupting HS2 services once they are running. This will be provided for in the Hybrid Bill.
Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, in March 2019 announced the creation of a Station Commission to determine the size, type and location of a new "transport hub" station in Liverpool's city centre, linking with the local transport infrastructure. The station would serve HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail trains. The existing Lime Street station is considered too small, with expansion difficult and expensive. Transport for the North's strategic plan recognised the need for a new station to accommodate HS2 and NPR trains.
Rotheram stated in May 2019 that the government now preferred to connect Liverpool to HS2 via an existing freight line rather than build dedicated direct high speed track into the city. In June 2019, HS2 officially documented that Liverpool will branch onto HS2 at High Legh in Cheshire and not via Crewe. Passive provision of two branches will be built. Whether Liverpool will access HS2 via high speed track or lower speed track has not been determined.
The Scottish Partnership Group for High Speed Rail in June 2011 campaigned for the extension of the HS2 to Newcastle.
Business and governmental organisations including Network Rail, CBI Scotland and Transport Scotland (the transport agency of the Scottish Government) formed the Scottish Partnership Group for High Speed Rail in June 2011 to campaign for the extension of the HS2 project north to Edinburgh and Glasgow. It published a study in December 2011 which outlined a case for extending high-speed rail to Scotland, proposing a route north of Manchester to Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as an extension to Newcastle.
In 2009, the then Transport Secretary Lord Adonis outlined a policy for high-speed rail in the UK as an alternative to domestic air travel, with particular emphasis on travel between the major cities of Scotland and England. "I see this as the union railway, uniting England and Scotland, north and south, richer and poorer parts of our country, sharing wealth and opportunity, pioneering a fundamentally better Britain," he stated in his speech.
In November 2012 the Scottish Government announced plans to build a 74 km (46 mi) high-speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The proposed link would have reduced journey times between the two cities to under 30 minutes and was planned to open by 2024, eventually connecting to the high-speed network being developed in England. The plan was cancelled in 2016.
In May 2015, it was reported that HS2 Ltd had concluded that there was "no business case" to extend HS2 north into Scotland, and that high-speed rail services would run north of Manchester and Leeds on conventional track.
Greengauge 21, at the National HSR Conference in Glasgow in September 2015, recommended a mixture of high-speed and existing track to Scotland to reduce journey times. This would use planned HS2 track, existing WCML track and sections of newly laid high-speed track.
In July 2016 it was reported that the 400-metre-long (1,300 ft) HS2 trains using the existing track could not be accommodated at Glasgow Central or Glasgow Queen Street stations, due to insufficient space to extend the platforms; extended or new platforms would require the compulsory purchase of buildings and land. Instead, the proposals suggested a possible third major station in Glasgow. In April 2019, a report by the Glasgow Connectivity Commission called 'Connecting Glasgow' recommended that in order to accommodate the trains, Glasgow Central should be redesigned and extended southwards over the river. It was also proposed that a new southern entrance and concourse close to the site of the now long-disused Glasgow Bridge Street could be built. The commission also highlighted the potential to create a bus station under the station, close to the proposed concourse. The city council had been planning a new HS2 terminal at Collegelands, to the east of the city centre, and the commission recommended this plan should be rejected.
Proposals to extend HS2 to Scotland via the East Coast have included plans for a new station outside York. This station could be built near the A59, the A64, the York Outer Ring Road or the Harrogate to York railway line.
Connection to other lines
Existing main lines
A key feature of the HS2 proposals is that the new high speed track will mix with existing lower speed high speed track forming the complete network. Purpose-built "classic compatible" trains will be capable of operating on the new spine of high speed track at full line-speeds then seamlessly run onto "classic" lower speed high speed tracks at speeds of 201 km/h (125 mph) or below. This will enable trains to reach destinations served only by slower high speed tracks, such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, using a mixture of slower "classic" and faster high speed track. As HS2 trains are non-tilting, they will be slower than existing tilting trains on some sections of classic high speed tracks.
- east of Lichfield Trent Valley, 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) northwest of Lichfield
- north of Crewe
- south of Crewe
- 3 miles south of Wigan North Western station
- at Ulleskelf, 8 km (5 mi) southeast of York, joining the existing Church Fenton line, which meets the East Coast Main Line 3 km (2 mi) further north at Colton Junction near Colton
- at High Legh in Cheshire. Two junctions, one for the Liverpool to London service and one for the Liverpool to Manchester/Leeds service on a proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail line using a section of HS2 track.
The route from London to the West Midlands will be the first stage of a line to Scotland, with passengers travelling to or from Scotland on through trains using a mixture of new high speed and existing classic tracks, with a saving of 45 minutes from the opening of Phase 1. It was recommended by a Parliamentary select committee on HS2 in November 2011 that a statutory clause should be in the bill that will guarantee HS2 being constructed beyond Birmingham so that the economic benefits are spread farther.
High Speed 1
The Department for Transport initially outlined plans to build a two-kilometre-long (1.2 mi) link between HS2 and the existing High Speed 1 line that connects London to the Channel Tunnel. At their closest points, the two high-speed lines will be only 640 m (0.4 mi) apart. This connection would have enabled rail services running from Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham to bypass London Euston and run directly to Paris, Brussels and other continental European destinations, realising the aims of the Regional Eurostar scheme that was first proposed in the 1980s. Several schemes were considered, and the route finally put forward was a tunnel between Old Oak Common and Chalk Farm, linked to existing "classic speed" lines along the North London Line which would connect to HS1 north of St Pancras.
Camden London Borough Council raised concerns about the impact on housing, Camden Market and other local businesses from construction work and bridge widening along the proposed railway link. Alternative schemes were considered, including boring a tunnel under Camden. The HS1-HS2 link was removed from the parliamentary bill at the second reading stage in order to save £700 million from the budget.
In the absence of such a link, passengers to/from provincial cities will take a short London Underground journey or a brief overground walk to connect with HS1.
HS3 (Northern Powerhouse Rail)
High Speed 3 (HS3), a high-speed railway across the North of England, was proposed in 2015 by Transport for the North (TfN). The east-west trans-Pennine line would provide a high-speed link between northern cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull, with connections to HS2. In March 2016 The National Infrastructure Commission's report, "High Speed North", recommended collaboration between TfN and HS2 Ltd on the design of the northern parts of HS2. Some redesign of HS2 would be needed to link into HS3. The HS3 rail link was given the go-ahead in the March 2016 budget. The Institute of Public Policy Research on 8 August 2016 urged the government to prioritise HS3 over HS2. Sir David Higgins, then head of HS2, explained the collaboration between HS3 and HS2 to a Parliamentary Select Committee in December 2016. He outlined potential schemes being considered for a high-speed connection between Liverpool and Manchester, including a link via Golborne or a southern route via Manchester Airport into Piccadilly station.
On 16 May 2019, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee recommended treating NPR (HS3) and HS2 Phase 2B as one project. In June 2019 HS2 Ltd issued a document stating that NPR will branch into HS2 at High Legh in Cheshire. This was taken further, with steps towards integrating HS2 phase 2b with NPR being announced in HS2 Ltd’s phase 2b design refinement consultation. The two schemes which were developed separately will lead to the development of NPR in close co-ordination with HS2.
In 2018 a proposal was put forward by a British engineering consultancy, Expedition Engineering, for HS4Air, a high-speed railway line that would connect HS2 to HS1 via a 140-kilometre (87 mi) route running to the south of Greater London via Heathrow and Gatwick Airports. The proposal was rejected by the government in December 2018.
London and Birmingham
HS2's southern terminus is London Euston. Peak-hour capacity at the HS2 London terminal at Euston is predicted to more than triple when the network is fully operational, increasing from 11,300 to 34,900 passengers each way. Twenty-four platforms will serve High Speed and classic lines to the Midlands, with six underground lines. The connection with Crossrail at Old Oak Common in West London is designed to mitigate the extra burden on Euston, although Euston too would see its underground station rebuilt and integrated with Euston Square. A rapid transit "people mover" link between Euston and St Pancras might be provided, and it is proposed to route the proposed Crossrail 2 (Chelsea–Hackney line) via Euston to cope with increased passenger demand.
A review by Lord Mawhinney suggested that HS2 should terminate at Old Oak Common, not Euston. He questioned the sense of HS2 terminating at Euston, with HS1 at St Pancras and no through running connection between them. The plans proposed a link via an upgraded section of the North London Line to enable three trains per hour to run through to High Speed 1 and towards the Channel Tunnel, bypassing Euston.
A report published in March 2010 proposed that all trains would stop at a "Crossrail interchange" near Old Oak Common, between Paddington and Acton Main Line, with connections for Crossrail, Heathrow Express, and the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Airport, Reading, South West England and South Wales. The station might also have an interchange with London Overground and Southern on the North London and West London Lines and also with London Underground's Central line.
Mawhinney recommended that HS2 should terminate at Old Oak Common because of its good connections and to save the cost of tunnelling to Euston. The HS2 route published on 10 January 2012 included stations at both Euston and Old Oak Common.
The March 2010 report proposed that a new Birmingham Interchange through the station in rural Solihull, on the east side of the M42 motorway from the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham International Airport and the existing Birmingham International Station.
The station will be located at a separate site from the existing Birmingham International Station. Passengers will interchange via a people mover between the stations and the other sites, with a capacity of over 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction in the peak period. The AirRail Link people mover already operates between Birmingham International station and the airport.
Birmingham Airport's chief executive Paul Kehoe stated that HS2 is a key element in increasing the number of flights using the airport, with added patronage by inhabitants of London and the South East, as HS2 will reduce travelling times to Birmingham Airport from London to under 40 minutes.
Birmingham city centre
A new terminus for HS2, termed "Birmingham Curzon Street" in the government's command paper and "Birmingham Fazeley Street" in the report produced by High Speed 2 Ltd, would be built on land between Moor Street Queensway and the site of Curzon Street station. It would be reached via a spur line from a triangular junction with the HS2 main line at Coleshill.
The planned site for the new station is immediately adjacent to Moor Street station, and approximately 400 metres (0.25 mi) northeast of New Street station. Passenger interchange with Moor Street would be at street level, across Moor Street Queensway; interchange with New Street would be via a pedestrian walkway between Moor Street and New Street (opened in 2013). The other city-centre station, Snow Hill, is a couple of minutes' train journey from Moor Street.
Development planning for the Fazeley Street quarter of Birmingham has changed as a result of HS2. Prior to the announcement of the HS2 station, Birmingham City University had planned to build a new campus in Eastside. The proposed Eastside development will now include a new museum quarter, with the original stone Curzon Street station building becoming a new museum of photography, fronting on to a new Curzon Square, which will also be home to Ikon 2, a museum of contemporary art.
Birmingham to Manchester (Phases 2a and 2b)
Proposals for the station locations were announced on 28 January 2013.
Birmingham to Crewe (Phase 2a)
HS2 will pass through Staffordshire and Cheshire. The line will run in a tunnel under the Crewe junction by-passing the station. However, the HS2 line will be linked to the West Coast Main Line via a grade-separated junction just south of Crewe, enabling "classic compatible" trains exiting the high-speed line to call at the existing Crewe station. In 2014, the chairman of HS2 advocated a dedicated hub station in Crewe. In November 2015 it was announced that the Crewe hub completion would be brought forward to 2027. In November 2017 the government and Network Rail supported a proposal to build the hub station on the existing station site, with a junction onto the West Coast Main Line north of the station. This will enable through trains to bypass the station via a tunnel under the station and run directly onto the WCML.
Manchester Airport (Phase 2b)
An HS2 station provisionally named Manchester Interchange is planned to the south of the city of Manchester, serving Manchester Airport. It was recommended in 2013 by local authorities during the consultation stage. Construction will be part-funded by private investment from the Manchester Airports Group.
The proposed site is located on the northwestern side of the airport, to the west of the M56 motorway at junction 5, and approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km) northwest of the existing Manchester Airport railway station. A sub-surface station is planned, approximately 8.5 metres (27 ft 11 in) below ground level, consisting of two central 415 metres (1,362 ft) platforms, a pair of through tracks for trains to pass through the station without stopping, a street-level passenger concourse and a main entrance on the eastern side, facing the airport.
Current proposals do not detail passenger interchange methods; various options are being considered to integrate the new station with existing transport networks, including extending the Manchester Metrolink Airport Line to connect the HS2 station with the existing airport railway station.
Manchester city centre (Phase 2b)
The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick. The tunnel will be at an average depth of 33 m (108 ft) and trains will travel through it at 228 kilometres per hour (142 mph). The diameter of the tunnel is dependent on the train speed and length of the tunnel. It is envisaged both tunnels will be, as an "absolute minimum", 7.25 metres (23 ft 9 in) in diameter to accommodate the high-speed trains.
Up to 15 sites were put forward, including Sportcity, Pomona Island, expanding Deansgate railway station and re-configuring the grade-II listed Manchester Central into a station. Three final sites made the list: Manchester Piccadilly station, Salford Central station and a newly built station at Salford Middlewood Locks. Three approaches were considered, one via the M62, one via the River Mersey and the other through south Manchester. Both Manchester and Salford city councils recommended routing High Speed 2 to Manchester Piccadilly, although the station throat faces southeast away from the incoming HS2 line, to maximise economic potential and connectivity rather than building a new station at a greater cost.
HS2 will terminate at an upgraded Manchester Piccadilly station. At least four new 400-metre-long (1,300 ft) platforms will be built to accommodate the new high-speed trains in addition to the two platforms which are currently planned as part of the Northern Hub proposal. It is envisaged Platform 1 under the existing listed train shed will also be converted to a fifth HS2 platform. The HS2 concourse will be connected to the existing concourse at Piccadilly. HS2 will reduce the average journey time from central Manchester to central London from 2 hours 8 minutes to 1 hour 8 minutes.
Birmingham to Leeds (Phase 2b)
HS2 will reduce the average journey time from central Leeds to London from 2 hours 20 minutes to 1 hour 28 minutes.
East Midlands Hub
HS2, to serve the East Midlands has planned a new through station named the East Midlands Hub located at Toton sidings west of Nottingham. The station will be an out of town parkway station, serving the cities of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. The Derbyshire and Nottingham Chamber of Commerce supports high-speed rail serving the East Midlands, however, was concerned that a parkway station instead of centrally located stations in each of the three cities would result in no overall net benefit in journey times. Their concerns are based on the East Midlands Parkway railway station that was recently constructed on the Midland Main Line south of Derby and Nottingham, close to the proposed HS2 site in Toton, which is failing to reach its passenger targets by a substantial margin.
Removal of Sheffield from direct HS2 service
HS2 continues north passing Sheffield to the east of the city. Initially, there were plans for a direct Sheffield Meadowhall HS2 station, located close to the existing Meadowhall Interchange east of the city. After petitioning by Sheffield City Council the route to the city was changed on 7 July 2016 with high-speed trains serving the centre of the city using classic compatible trains. High-speed trains would branch off HS2 track onto existing classic track south of Sheffield at Clay Cross, north through and serving Chesterfield station and continuing north into Sheffield station. High-speed trains can leave Sheffield and Chesterfield heading north and then branch back onto HS2 track north of the city at Grimethorpe.
The proposed city centre station would, according to Sheffield City Council, generate up to £5 billion more for the local economy than a station at Meadowhall, whilst also increasing the station's usage and creating around 6,500 extra jobs, while a Meadowhall station would cause problems with road congestion.
HS2 continues north after the branch at Grimethorpe through West Yorkshire toward York, with a spur taking the line into Leeds. It was originally proposed that a separate HS2 station – Leeds New Lane – would be built. However, a later review decided that greater benefits would be obtained by bringing HS2 to the existing Leeds station. HS2 platforms will be built onto the Southern side of the station building creating a common concourse for easy interchange between high speed and classic rail services.
Civil engineering works for the actual line were scheduled to commence in June 2019, delayed from the original target date of November 2018. The civil aspect of the construction of Phase 1 is worth roughly £6.6 billion with preparation including over 8,000 boreholes for ground investigation.
Euston station in London
Work commenced in October 2018 with the demolition of the former carriage sheds at Euston station. The work will allow the start of construction at the throat of the station at Mornington Street bridge, twin-bore 8-mile (13 km) tunnels to West Ruislip. The taxi rank at Euston station was moved to a temporary location at the front of the station in January 2019 so that demolition of the One Euston Square and Grant Thornton House tower blocks could commence. The demolition period is scheduled for ten months.
Proposed service pattern
HS2 will provide up to 18 trains an hour by 2033 to and from London. As of 2018, the service pattern is yet to be defined; the assumptions used in the modelling in the Department for Transport's economic case for HS2, updated for Phase 2, used the following service pattern: (Note: Services to HS2 captive destinations were modelled to be serviced by 400 metre trains, while services to classic compatible destinations were modelled to be serviced by 200 metre trains)
|Start||Destination||Trains per hour||Intermediate stations|
|London Euston||Birmingham Curzon Street||3||Old Oak Common (OOC), Birmingham Interchange|
|Liverpool Lime Street||2||OOC, Stafford (1tph), Crewe (1tph), Runcorn|
|Manchester Piccadilly||3||OOC, Wilmslow (1tph), Stockport|
|Preston||1||OOC, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western|
|Start||Destination||Trains per hour||Intermediate stations|
|London Euston||Curzon Street||3||Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange (2tph)|
|Manchester Piccadilly||3||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph) and Manchester Airport (2tph)|
|Liverpool Lime Street||2||Old Oak Common, Stafford (1tph), Crewe (1tph) and Runcorn|
|Preston||1||Old Oak Common, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western|
|Glasgow Central||2||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston and Carstairs|
|Edinburgh||2||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston, Carstairs and Edinburgh Haymarket|
|Leeds||3||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub (1tph), Chesterfield (1tph) Sheffield Midland (1tph)|
|Sheffield Midland||2||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (1tph)|
|York||1||Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange|
|Newcastle||2||Old Oak Common (1tph), Birmingham Interchange and York|
|Birmingham Interchange||Curzon Street||1||No intermediate stops|
|Curzon Street||Stafford||0.5||No intermediate stops|
|Crewe||0.5||No intermediate stops|
|Manchester Piccadilly||1||Crewe and Manchester Interchange|
|Preston||2 (per day)||Crewe, Manchester Interchange and Wigan North Western|
|Carlisle||2 (per day)||Manchester Interchange, Wigan North Western and Preston|
|Glasgow Central||1||Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle|
|Edinburgh||1||Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle|
|Sheffield Midland||1||East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (3tph)|
|Leeds||1||East Midlands Hub|
|York||1||East Midlands Hub and Sheffield Midland (2tph)|
|Stafford||Crewe||1 (per day)||No intermediate stops|
|Liverpool Lime Street||1||Runcorn|
|Crewe||Liverpool Lime Street||1||Runcorn|
|Manchester Piccadilly||1||Manchester Interchange|
|Glasgow Central||1||Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle|
|Manchester Airport HS2||Preston||1||Wigan North Western|
|Glasgow Central||0.5||Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle|
|Edinburgh||0.5||Preston and Carlisle|
|Carlisle||Glasgow Central||1||No intermediate stops|
|York||Newcastle||1||No intermediate stops|
Services on High Speed 2 will be included in the new West Coast Partnership franchise, which will replace the existing InterCity West Coast franchise upon its expiry in March 2020. The chosen operator will be responsible for running all aspects of the service including ticketing, trains and the maintenance of the infrastructure. Three joint ventures were shortlisted by the Department for Transport in June 2017 and tendered their bids for the new franchise in March 2018:
- First Trenitalia West Coast Rail Ltd, a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia
- MTR West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between MTR Corporation, Guangshen Railway Company and Renfe Operadora
- West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between Stagecoach Group, Virgin Group and SNCF
The new franchise will run for the first five years of HS2's operation. The Government did not rule out the possibility of open access operators.
In August 2019, the DfT announced that First Trenitalia West Coast Rail was the successful bidder and that Avanti West Coast would commence operating on 8 December 2019.
There has been no announcement about how HS2 tickets will be priced, although the government said that it would "assume a fares structure in line with that of the existing railway" and that HS2 should attract sufficient passengers to not have to charge premium fares. Paul Chapman, in charge of HS2's public relations strategy, suggested that there could be last minute tickets sold at discount rates. He said, "when you have got a train departing on a regular basis, maybe every five or ten minutes, in that last half hour before the train leaves and you have got empty seats...you can start selling tickets for £5 and £10 at a standby rate."
HS2 will carry up to 26,000 people per hour, with anticipated annual passenger numbers of 85 million. The line will be used intensively with 15 trains per hour travelling to and from Euston. As all trains will be travelling at the same speed, capacity is increased as faster trains have no need to reduce speed for slower trains. The line is only for high speed passenger trains eliminating slow freight and commuter trains. Moving high speed trains off the West Coast Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line will release capacity for slower commuter trains. Andrew McNaughton, Chief Technical Director, said, “Basically, as a dedicated passenger railway, we can carry more people per hour than two motorways. It's phenomenal capacity. It pretty much triples the number of seats long-distance to the North of England.”
The Department for Transport report on High Speed Rail published in March 2010 sets out the specifications for a high-speed line. It will be built to a European structure gauge (as was HS1) and will conform to European Union technical standards for interoperability for high-speed rail. HS2 Ltd's report assumed a GC structure gauge for passenger capacity estimations, with a maximum design speed of 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph). Initially, trains would run at a maximum speed of 360 kilometres per hour (225 mph).
Signalling would be based on the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) with in-cab signalling, to resolve the visibility issues associated with lineside signals at speeds over 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph). Platform height will be at the European standard of 760 millimetres (2 ft 6 in).
The rolling stock for HS2 has not yet been specified in any detail. Bidding for the contract to design and build the trains was opened in 2017 and is expected to be awarded in 2019. There will be 60 trains for Phase 1, each capable of seating 1,000 passengers.
The 2010 DfT government command paper outlined some requirements for the train design among its recommendations for design standards for the HS2 network. A photograph of a French AGV (Automotrice à grande vitesse) was used as an example of the latest high-speed rail technology. The paper addressed the particular problem of designing trains to continental European standards, which use taller and wider rolling stock, requiring a larger structure gauge than the rail network in Great Britain.
- Wider and taller trains built to a European loading gauge, which would be confined to the high-speed network (including HS1 and HS2) and other lines cleared to their loading gauge.
- 'Classic compatible' trains, capable of high speed, however built to a British loading gauge permitting the trains to leave the high-speed track to join conventional classic routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland. However, these non-tilting trains will run slower than existing tilting trains on classic track. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought "off-the-shelf", these classic-compatible trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.
Both types of train would have a maximum speed of at least 350 km/h (220 mph) and a length of 200 metres (660 ft). Two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train. It has been reported that these longer trains would have approximately 1,100 seats with Andrew McNaughton, technical director of HS2 stating "family areas will alleviate the stress of parents worried that their children are annoying other passengers who are maybe trying to work."
The DfT report also considered the possibility of 'gauge clearance' work on non-high-speed lines as an alternative to 'classic compatible' trains. This work would involve extensive reconstruction of stations, tunnels and bridges and widening of clearances to allow European-profile trains to run beyond the high-speed network. The report concluded that although initial outlay on commissioning new rolling stock would be high, it would cost less than the widespread disruption of rebuilding large tracts of Britain's rail infrastructure.
Alstom, one of the bidders for the contract to build the trains, proposed in October 2016 tilting HS2 trains to run on HS2 and classic tracks to increase overall speeds when running on classic tracks.
|On classic network||n/a||2.00||2.60|
A depot will be built in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, covering all of Phase 1 and Phase 2a. In July 2018, the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, announced that the maintenance depot for the eastern leg of Phase 2b would be located at Gateway 45 near to the M1 motorway in Leeds.
The Infrastructure Maintenance Depot (IMD) for Phase 1 will be constructed roughly halfway along the route, north of Aylesbury between Steeple Claydon and Calvert in Buckinghamshire. This location is adjacent to the intersection of HS2 and the East West Rail (EWR) route.
In the Working Draft Environmental Statement for Phase 2b, the IMD on the eastern leg is proposed near Staveley, Derbyshire on the former Chemical Works site while the western leg, phase 2a will have one near Stone, Staffordshire.
To HS2 stations
The DfT's latest revised estimates of journey times for some major destinations once the line has been built as far as Leeds and Manchester, set out in the January 2012 document High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future – Decisions and Next Steps, are as follows: Times given for Manchester and Leeds until completion of Phase 2b will be on a mixture of HS2 and classic track.
|London to/from||Standard journey time before HS2
|Estimated time after Phase 1
time after Phase 2 (hrs:min)
|Estimated Phase 1 Reduction||Estimated Phase 2 reduction|
|Birmingham||1:24||0:49||no change||0:35||no change|
|East Midlands Hub||N/A||N/A||0:51||N/A||N/A|
|Leeds||2:20||no change||1:28||no change||0:52|
- Birmingham 1:13; one train per day, in one direction only: 07:30 New Street-08:43 Euston; standard journey times are 1:24
- Manchester 2:00; one train per day, in one direction only: 07:00 Piccadilly-09:00 Euston; standard journey times are 2:08
- Leeds 1:59: one train per day, in one direction only: 07:00 Leeds-08:59 King's Cross, standard journey times are 2:20
To other stations
|London to/from||Journey time before HS2
|Journey time after HS2 Phase 2
|Reduction after HS2 Phase 2|
|Birmingham to/from||Journey time before HS2
|Journey time after HS2 Phase 2
|Reduction after HS2 Phase 2|
|East Midlands Hub||N/A||0:19||N/A|
|Manchester Airport||1:44||0:32||1:12 (69.2%)|
The Department for Transport initially estimated the cost of first 190-kilometre (120 mi) section, from London to Birmingham, at between £15.8 and £17.4 billion, and the entire Y-shaped 540-kilometre (335 mi) network at £30 billion, not including the Manchester Airport station which would be locally funded. In June 2013 the projected cost (in 2011 prices) rose by £10 billion to £42.6 billion, with an extra £7.5 billion budgeted for rolling stock for a total of £50.1 billion. Less than a week later, it was revealed that the DfT had been using an outdated model to estimate the productivity increases associated with the railway. The most commonly cited cost applied to the project is £56.6 billion, which corresponds to the June 2013 funding package, as adjusted for inflation by the House of Lords' Economic Affairs Committee in 2015.
Cost increases began to lead to reductions in the planned track. For instance, the link between HS1 and HS2 was later dropped on cost grounds. In April 2016 Sir Jeremy Heywood, a top UK civil servant, was reviewing the HS2 project to trim costs and gauge whether the project could be kept within budget. The cost of HS2 is around 25 per cent higher than the international average, which was blamed on the higher population density and cost of land in a report by PwC. The costs are also higher because the line will run directly into city centres instead of joining existing networks on the outskirts.
Sources of funding other than central government have been mooted for additional links. The City of Liverpool, omitted from direct HS2 access, in March 2016 offered £6 billion to fund a link from the city to the HS2 backbone 20 miles (32 km) away. HS2 received funding from the European Union's Connecting Europe Facility.
New political and financial dynamics
Until the start of the Great Recession, high-speed rail did not feature high among the priorities of British policymakers and institutional investors: “Britain's best rail transport network, the High-Speed 1 line (HS1 or ‘Channel Tunnel Rail Link’) connecting the country to Paris, [is] a strategic infrastructure asset designed by French engineers, and owned and operated by Canadian pension funds.” However, policy attitudes towards modern transport infrastructure started to change in the early 2010s, notably with renewed interest for the notion of UK pension investment in domestic infrastructure projects jointly with the state.
A 2008 paper, 'Delivering a Sustainable Transport System' identified fourteen strategic national transport corridors in England, and described the London – West Midlands – North West England route as the "single most important and heavily used" and also as the one which presented "both the greatest challenges in terms of future capacity and the greatest opportunities to promote a shift of passenger and freight traffic from road to rail". They noted that railway passenger numbers had been growing significantly in recent years, doubling from 1995 to 2015 and that the Rugby – Euston section was expected to have insufficient capacity sometime around 2025. This is despite the WCML upgrade on some sections of the track, which was completed in 2008, lengthened trains and an assumption that plans to upgrade the route with cab signalling would be realised.
According to the DfT, the primary purpose of HS2 is to provide additional capacity on the rail network from London to the Midlands and North. It says the new line "would improve rail services from London to cities in the North of England and Scotland, and that the chosen route to the west of London will improve passenger transport links to Heathrow Airport". Additionally, if the new line were connected to the Great Western Main Line (GWML) and Crossrail, it would provide links with East and West London and the Thames Valley.
In launching the project, the DfT announced that HS2 between London and the West Midlands would follow a different alignment from the WCML, rejecting the option of further upgrading or building new tracks alongside the WCML as being too costly and disruptive, and because the Victorian-era WCML alignment was not suitable for very high speeds.
In October 2016, Andrew Jones, a transport minister, suggested renaming HS2 as the 'Grand Union Railway', not to be confused with the Grand Junction Railway (today the West Coast Main Line). His reasoning for this was because HS2 is not about speed and is more about connectivity. There is currently no firm proposal for this name and HS2 remains to be called HS2 or High Speed 2.
Support and opposition
HS2 has significant support and opposition from various groups and organisations. It is officially supported by the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and the Scottish National Parties. The Brexit Party, UK Independence Party and Green Party oppose the scheme. The Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government formed in May 2010 stated in its initial programme for government its commitment to creating a high-speed rail network. Some Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians do not support their party line, opposing the HS2 scheme in detail; some support proposals for alternative routes with some rejecting the whole principle of high-speed rail.
HS2 Ltd announced in March 2012 that it will conduct consultations with local people and organisations along the London to West Midlands route through community forums, planning forums and an environment forum. Between them, the forums will discuss the development of the route, the identification of potential impacts and look at the best approaches to mitigate these. HS2 has also confirmed that the consultations will be conducted in line with the terms of the Aarhus Convention which commits organisations to provide access to environmental information they hold, and enable participation and challenge as part of decision-making processes.
HS2 Ltd set up 25 community forums along Phase 1 in March 2012. The forums provide for representatives of local authorities, residents associations, special interest groups and environment bodies in each community forum area to 'engage' with HS2 Ltd to:- "discuss potential ways to avoid and mitigate the environmental impacts of the route, such as screening views of the railway; managing noise and reinstating highways; highlight local priorities for the route design; identify possible community benefits." Forum meetings will take place every 2–3 months and will have an independent chairman appointed by HS2.
Six planning forums aligned to local council boundaries along Phase 1 of the route were announced by HS2 in April 2012. Membership would comprise HS2 Ltd and officers from highway and planning authorities. Meeting every two months, their particular focus would include, location specific constraints, design and impacts, including construction; spatial planning considerations; the planning regime to be set out in the hybrid bill; and proposals for mitigations.
Environmental and community impact
The visual impact of HS2 has received particular attention in the Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Government announced in January 2011 that two million trees would be planted along sections of the route to mitigate the visual impact.
Property demolition, land take and compensation
Phase 1 will result in the demolition of more than 400 houses; 250 around Euston station, 20–30 between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip, a number in Ealing, around 50 in Birmingham, and the remainder in pockets along the route. No Grade I or Grade II* listed buildings will be demolished, but six Grade II listed buildings will be, with alterations to four and removal and relocation of eight. In Birmingham, the new Curzon Gate student residence will be demolished and Birmingham City University wanted a £30 million refund after the plans were revealed.
From the beginning of the HS2 consultation period, the government has factored in several plans to compensate people who will or may be affected. Once original plans had been released in 2010, the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) was set up, however, this was at the government's discretion and Phase 1 came to an end on 17 June 2010. With EHS Phase 2 running throughout 2013. Both EHS are intended to compensate homeowners who have difficulty selling their home because of the HS2 route announcement, to protecting those whose property value may be seriously affected by the 'preferred route option' and who urgently need to sell.
Ancient woodland impact
The Woodland Trust claims that 108 ancient woodlands will suffer loss or be damaged due to HS2, and 34 more will be affected by disturbance, noise and pollution. In England, ancient woods are areas that have been continuously wooded since 1600 and are the country's richest land-based habitat, with a complex and diverse ecology of plants and animals. According to the Trust, 56 hectares (0.6 km2) are threatened with total loss from the construction of phases 1 and 2. To mitigate the loss, HS2 Ltd says that during phase 1 seven million trees and shrubs will be planted, creating 900 hectares (9 km2) of new woods. The Woodland Trust has called the compensatory tree planting "greenwash nonsense".
Loss of wildlife habitat, and recreation space
David Lidington, MP for Aylesbury, raised concerns that the route could damage the 47 kilometres (29 mi)-wide Chiltern Hills area of outstanding natural beauty, the Colne Valley regional park on the outskirts of London, and other areas of green belt.
The route passes through the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire via the Misbourne Valley. Initially through a tunnel beneath Chalfont St Giles emerging just after Amersham, then past Wendover and Stoke Mandeville. Its proposals include a re-alignment of more than 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of the River Tame, and construction of a 0.63 km (0.39 mi) viaduct and a cutting through ancient woodland at a nature reserve at Park Hall on the edge of Birmingham.
Carbon dioxide emissions
In 2007 the DfT commissioned a report, Estimated Carbon Impact of a New North-South Line, from Booz Allen Hamilton to investigate the likely overall carbon impact associated with the construction and operation of a new rail line to either Manchester or Scotland; including the extent of carbon dioxide emission reduction or increase from a shift to rail use, and a comparison with the case in which no new high-speed lines were built. The report concluded that there was no net carbon benefit in the foreseeable future, taking only the route to Manchester. Additional emissions from building a new rail route would be larger in the first ten years at least, when compared to a model where no new line was built.
The 2006 Eddington Report cautioned against the common argument of modal shift from aviation to high-speed rail as a carbon-emissions benefit, since only 1.2% of UK carbon emissions are due to domestic commercial aviation, and since rail transport energy efficiency is reduced as speed increases.
The 2007 Government White Paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway stated trains that travel at a speed of 350 kilometres per hour (220 mph) used 90% more energy than at 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph); which would result in carbon emissions for a London to Edinburgh journey of approximately 14 kilograms (31 lb) per passenger for high-speed rail compared to 7 kilograms (15 lb) per passenger for conventional rail; air travel emits 26 kilograms (57 lb) per passenger for the same journey. The paper questioned the value for money of high-speed rail as a method of reducing carbon emissions, but noted that with a switch to carbon-free or carbon-neutral energy production the case becomes much more favourable.
The House of Commons Transport Select Committee Report in November 2011 (paragraph 77) concluded that the Government's claim that HS2 would have substantial carbon reduction benefits did not stand up to scrutiny. At best, the Select Committee found, HS2 could make a small contribution to the Government's carbon-reduction targets. However, this was dependent on making rapid progress in reducing carbon emissions from UK electricity generation.
In 2019 Friends of the Earth reported that HS2 would increase carbon emissions, with HS2 Ltd's own assessment stating that "residual carbon emissions are estimated to be 1,459,000 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent)".
HS2 Ltd stated that 21,300 dwellings could experience a noticeable increase in rail noise and 200 non-residential receptors (community, education, healthcare, and recreational/social facilities) within 300 metres (330 yd) of the preferred route have the potential to experience significant noise impacts. The Government has announced that trees planted to create a visual barrier will reduce noise pollution.
Exceptional Hardship Scheme
The government has said it plans to introduce a new discretionary hardship scheme to ensure the housing market along the route is not unduly disrupted. With Phase 1 applications intended to run from about August 2010 until the route was chosen in 2012 and Phase 2 throughout 2013; homeowners are/were advised to apply to the Secretary of State to buy their home, as long as all of the following criteria are met:
- Residential owner-occupier.
- Pressing need to sell. This means a change in employment location, extreme financial pressure, to accommodate enlarged family, move into sheltered accommodation, or medical condition of a family member.
- On or in 'close vicinity' of the 'preferred route' (that is mainly those who will, later on, be covered by statutory blight provisions).
- Have tried to sell – been on the market for at least three months with no offers within 15% of full market value (as if no HS2).
- Can demonstrate an inability to sell is due to HS2.
- No knowledge of HS2 before acquiring the property.
Since the announcement of Phase 1, the government has had plans to create an overall 'Y shaped' line with termini in Manchester and Leeds. Since the intentions to further extend were announced an additional compensation scheme was set up. Consultations with those affected were set up over late 2012 and January 2013, to allow homeowners to express their concerns within their local community.
The results of the consultations are not yet known, but Alison Munro, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, has stated that it is also looking at other options, including property bonds. The statutory blight regime would apply to any route confirmed for a new high-speed line following the public consultations, which took place between 2011 and January 2013.
In 2010, HS2 Action Alliance's alternative compensation solution for property blight was presented to DfT/HS2 Ltd and Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, in response to the consultation on the EHS. The Alliance also presented DfT and HS2 Ltd with a pilot study on property blight.
The revision of the route through South Yorkshire, which replaced the original plans for a station at Meadowhall with a station off the HS2 tracks at Sheffield, was cited as a major reason for the collapse of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal; Sheffield City Council's successful lobbying for a city-centre station in opposition to Barnsley, Doncaster, and Rotherham's preference for the Meadowhall option caused Doncaster and Barnsley councils to seek an all-Yorkshire devolution deal instead.
Construction of HS2 will involve the largest archaeology programme ever undertaken in the UK. Over 1,000 archaeologists will explore 60 sites across the HS2 route, spanning 10,000 years of the UK's history. Early discoveries were two Victorian era time capsules found during the demolition of the National Temperance Hospital in Camden, and Prehistoric flints found in Hillingdon. The long lost remains of the explorer Captain Matthew Flinders were discovered during excavations at the former burial ground of St James's Church, Piccadilly, which was some distance from the church, next to Euston railway station. His remains were identified from a lead coffin plate during the excavation of around 40,000 skeletons that were buried underneath the station. It is proposed to re-bury the remains, at a site to be decided, after osteoarchaeologists have examined them.
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