HS2: High-speed rail route phase two details announced

 

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Details of the next phase of the £32bn HS2 high-speed rail network have been unveiled by the government.

The preferred route of phase two goes north from Birmingham along two branches, with new stations at Toton near Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Manchester Airport.

Prime Minister David Cameron said there were particular benefits to linking the UK's major cities with high-speed rail.

Phase one's London-Birmingham link has faced considerable opposition.

Critics argue that HS2's predicted economic benefits have been overestimated by the government, and suggest swathes of picturesque countryside will be blighted by the railway.

Chancellor George Osborne's Tatton constituency in Cheshire is among the places phase two will pass through.

But he said: "If our predecessors hadn't decided to build the railways in the Victorian times, or the motorways in the middle part of the 20th Century, then we wouldn't have those things today.

"You have got to commit to these projects even though they take many years."

Analysis

Seven months is ever such a long time in politics.

Last summer there were rumours that HS2 was about to be quietly ditched. A Tory minister told a magazine that the project was "effectively dead" because George Osborne was going cold on the whole idea. Although, he denied that at the time.

Today, George Osborne will be all over your telly telling you HS2 is going to transform the economy, heal the north-south divide and help set us on the fast-track back to growth and prosperity.

This "dead" project is now back at the heart of the government's growth agenda; in a bid to convince voters that there is an ambitious plan to help rebalance and boost our sickly economy.

But there are still plenty of critics who claim the government's economic case for building a super-fast train line simply doesn't stack up. And that there are far better ways of spending £33bn to stimulate growth.

The Department for Transport said that HS2 phase two would virtually halve journey times between Birmingham and Manchester - to 41 minutes - and between London and Manchester from two hours and eight minutes to one hour and eight minutes.

Speeds of up to 250mph on HS2 will also reduce a Birmingham to Leeds journey from two hours to 57 minutes, while phase one will cut London-Birmingham travel to 49 minutes, from the current one hour and 24 minutes.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "It's not just about journey times, it is also about capacity.

"We are finding the railways are overcrowded. We've seen massive growth in rail passenger numbers, so this is taking HS2 so it serves the north."

Mr McLoughlin told MPs a period of informal consultation on the exact route would start immediately and inform an official public consultation later this year, with a firm decision reached in 2014.

A proposed spur to Heathrow Airport has been put on hold pending a review of UK aviation policy, due to report in 2015.

'Fundamentally flawed'

More than 70 groups oppose HS2. StopHS2 argues the project is "fundamentally flawed", saying the majority of journeys will be to London so England's North and Midlands will lose out rather than benefit, and that projections do not take into account competition from conventional rail.

Andrew Bridgen MP: "I have no confidence in their consultation process"

StopHS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: "Fifty-five percent of the economic benefits are based on the cash value of time, no-one works on trains and every business user is worth £70,000 a year - it's basically a train for the rich that everyone else is not only going to have to pay for the construction of but also have to subsidise throughout its lifetime as well."

Other opponents object on the grounds that HS2 will cut through picturesque countryside, and 18 councils along the route have said taxpayers cannot afford the line, and that it will increase greenhouse gas emissions.

The phase two announcement was welcomed by officials in northern English cities including Leeds, where city council leader Keith Wakefield said: "It will strengthen Leeds' position as the northern transport hub, and unlock major investment, jobs opportunities and connectivity to the rest of the country."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "We can't keep turning a blind eye to the north-south divide in our economy. That is what this high-speed project is all about."

HS2 image of proposed train The line is designed to cut travel times between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds

Construction on the Y-shaped extension could start in the middle of the next decade, with the line open by 2032-33.

While new stations will be built at Manchester Airport, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Toton, high-speed trains will also stop at Crewe's existing station on their way to Preston and Liverpool.

They will also be able to continue to Runcorn, Wigan, Durham, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Construction of the London-West Midlands route is expected to begin around 2017, once Parliament has approved the necessary powers, probably in 2015.

The Toton station along phase two of the route will primarily serve Derby and Nottingham, while the Sheffield station will be sited at the Meadowhall shopping centre five miles from the city centre.

Graphic showing the route for the new high-speed rail network
'Timetable slipping'

Labour's shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "I think it's tremendously important that we link our airports to our cities, not some station in the middle of nowhere near a city and bypass our main hub airports.

"So I think there are questions to be asked and we will be asking them, but overall this is a good thing for the country and we need to get on and give certainty."

She previously highlighted "worrying signs that the Department for Transport's timetable to deliver this vital infrastructure is slipping".

Details have also been published of the consultation on HS2 Ltd's proposed exceptional hardship scheme for phase two, which will cover compensation to affected property-owners.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 892.

    This is a good time to do this. Faster speed means more capacity (more trains can be run on the line), it frees up the old lines for more freight & local services. House prices are depressed, so compensation would be less. Jobs are created (is that not what we all want?) There are foreign capital chasing a secure investment home

    These conditions will not last long.

    So what is the problem?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 891.

    What is wrong with upgrading the currently crowded and overran East and West Coast Mainlines and the Hull-Manchester line? Would be cheaper and have a greater benefit. HS2 will not benefit Yorkshire as a region only Leeds and Sheffield and only at a fraction of what the Govt. is saying. The cost of the ticket will not be affordable to the everyday worker and the time saved is not value for money.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 890.

    865.Griff-rhys

    Love the idea if we can make it and not lose all the jobs like lorry drivers that let's face it we do need....sounds like you put some thought into your idea, so if you can net out the employment impact, then i think you're onto a winner

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 889.

    Don't even have a normal service on the east coast let alone a high speed link. Considering the amount of money that the NE of Scotland pumps into the exchequer this just rubs salt in.
    Thanks for nothing !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 888.

    Our airports are bursting at their seems while they - I assume - lose hope for future hub contracts; everyone agrees we desperately need to address this issue.

    The best solution for this and our country is Boris' visionary island; at a cost of over £30B.

    Yet, instead of that investment we choose to ruin country side and inevitably over-charge the customers in 2033 for the sake of 40-60 minutes.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 887.

    the money could have been better spent on housing . there would have been more jobs and an immediate boost for the economy . but then that would have been for people and not business and we know where politicians allegiances lie and its not in ordinary people . do we really need to get to the north of england a couple of hours early and not stay overnight .

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 886.

    To all the people who say we need this, if George Osborne knocked on your door tomorrow asking for £1200 to build a new railway, would you give it to him? Because that's how much it will cost EVERY household in the UK (assuming it even stays on budget).

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 885.

    Considering how tight Osbourne's grip is on the public purse strings I'm wondering where the HS2 projects funding of £32 Billion is to come from.

    He has not given any real detail but the magic project start start date, wait for it, 2017 is 2 years after the next General Election.

    The scheduled project start date allows it to be cancelled and let Osbourne and Co off the hook.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 884.

    If the Victorians had used a 200 year old method of transport then we would be in a mess.
    Reduce the demand with a 21st not 19th century solution..
    Use half this money to create a state of the art, future proofed digital network that would allow vast numbers of people to work from home or local offices with high speed video links so they don't have to travel.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 883.

    What I want to know is who stands to be enriched by this insane waste of money.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 882.

    Why is it the government (past and present and probably future) repeatedly do the opposite of what the electorate wants.

    A £32bn disaster. Southerners have very little reason to go to the north while most of us Northerners wouldn't be able to afford it. An utter waste of money in a time everyone is tightening their belts. Except politicians that is, they're happy to spend ours.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 881.

    If any of the HS2 supporters actually took the time and effort to look into the details of HS2 they would very quickly understand that the project it completely flawed.
    There is no environmental case & no economic case. It's clear those supporting this project do not care enough to delve a little deeper and find out the true impact.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 880.

    all that money ..... and you'll be able to count on one hand the number of times a train will do the high speed journey in the projected time !! Breakdowns, signal failures, leaves on the line, lazy rail staff on strike etc.
    Nobody will benefit from this stupid plan other than Camerons' mates who'll line their pockets through being awarded the contracts.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 879.

    The trouble with the idea of just adding a little to the existing lines, is that the tracks were laid out on the cheap and are not designed for high speed running. It will cost an even bigger fortune to rebuild exsiting track, and there will be disruption all the time the rebuild is going on. Sorry.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 878.

    Sequel to previous comment: if you want to experience efficient, reliable state-of-the-art rail, try the marvellous German FEDERAL (in Tory, island-race ears a dirty word) Railway (Bundesbahn)! From its super ICE expresses down to modern light diesels on remote branch lines, everything is superior to the patchwork of rubbish that we have in our backward country.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 877.

    When this was a labour project it was surrounded by comments like

    Where is the money coming from?

    Don’t they know you can’t borrow your way out of Debut?

    If there were a need for this the private sector would do it better

    This is not what we should be spending hard working tax payers money

    All the old clichés, it’s a Tory plan now so all those old concerns have gone

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 876.

    Priorities for Standard Class traveler.

    1 - Ticket prices
    2 - Available seating/overcrowding
    3 - Punctuality of service
    4 - Reliability of service

    Priorities for Business/First Class traveler

    1 - Journey times.

    Guess which one we're spending £32bn on?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 875.

    The fundamental problem with this project is the paucity of its vision. Yet more major capital expenditure programs focussed on an area of the country that already enjoys government largesse whilst the South West, North East, Humberside, Scotland, Wales etc. are ignored. Start the project in Penzance and connect the whole of the UK and make this a project everyone can back

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 874.

    Train travel is already overpriced travel reserved for the elite, more so if you need to book last minute . With a return ticket from London to Loughborough costing £155 (more than a days wages for most) and the petrol costing £40 it's a no brainer. I'm sure this train will be fast and well connected but I don't see it boosting the economy if no one can afford a ticket.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 873.

    823.Seraphor - Great, so you've got a lot more people to take the train. This I agree with, but what train are they going to take? The mainline capacity is pretty much full!
    817.Phil the Pill - exactly what cheap "Upgrades" are you proposing... The WCML upgrades that were abandoned cost more than HS2.
    839.Killer Boots Man - You mean like the already funded fibre broadband projects?

 

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