6: HS2 – A summary as at 12 June 2013
Although the national debate on HS2 began formally with the publication of the HS2 Command Paper: High Speed Rail here in March 2010, discussion/research into potential new railway lines had been taking place for a number of years prior to this.
From 2008 there had been a significant increase in activity with the then Labour Government asking Network Rail to consider future rail options, including new lines, the establishment of a National Networks Strategy Group chaired by the Secretary of State for Transport at the time, Andrew Adonis, to examine the case for a wholly new railway line and the creation of a new company, HS2 Ltd here to carry out research into the case for new high speed services from London to Scotland.
HS2 Ltd’s report was submitted to the Government at the end of December 2009 but did not publicly surface until March 2010 when it was published with the Government’s response to the report in the form of the March 2010 Command Paper. The Government proposed a Y-shaped network of around 335 miles commencing from a rebuilt Euston station in London to a new Birmingham City Centre station and then beyond to Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh to the west, and Leeds and Newcastle to the east. This was officially the birth of ‘HS2’ (HS1 being the Channel Tunnel Rail Link).
Change in Government
The change in Government in May 2010 did not, much to the dismay of opponents of HS2, lead to a change in policy on HS2 – the Coalition Government confirmed its commitment to high speed rail in October 2010 followed by a national consultation, ‘High speed rail: Investing in Britain’s future’) in February 2011 here. This consultation set out the route for an initial line between London and the West Midlands (Phase One). The consultation generated a staggering 54,909 responses by the time it closed in July 2011.
Decision to proceed with HS2
In January 2012, following analysis of the responses to the consultation Justine Greening, the then Secretary of State for Transport, announced the decision to proceed with HS2 Ltd’s recommended route between London and Birmingham, i.e. Phase One in a Command Paper here. The recommendations for a wider network, linking Birmingham to Manchester, Leeds and points further north via the existing East and West Coast main lines (Phase Two), as well as a spur to Heathrow Airport, were also accepted.
On 28 January 2013, the Secretary of State (now Patrick McLoughlin) announcedhere the initial preferred routes for Phase Two, comprising a western branch connecting Birmingham and Manchester (via Manchester Airport); and an eastern branch connecting Birmingham with Leeds via a new East Midlands Hub at Toton and a new station at Sheffield Meadowhall. A public consultation on Phase Two is intended to begin later this year.
Queen’s Speech 2013
It was announced in the 2013 Queen’s Speech that legislation will be introduced to enable the building of Phase One. Previous blog entry 5 considered the ‘High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill’ and the ‘High Speed Two Hybrid Bill’ as yet to be published, will be subject of future blog entries. These two bills will enable the Government to ensure that the ‘first shovels will hit the ground’ in 2017 and the first high speed trains are speeding along the tracks between Birmingham and London by 2026.
12 June 2013