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."


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

    Comment number 1192.

    The proposition that it is needed is haighly suspect. It benefits only those in Birmingham & London intially and after that only at 4 other stops. Who needs to be in Birmingham 27 or Manchester 60 minutes quicker? Just allow more time and work on train.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1191.

    1175.Chad H
    Thank you!
    I know that have ICE, I was hoping someone would pick up on that :)

    I was trying to show that some countries have HS, others don't. Many that have HS have rubbish economies anyway. HS doesn't necessarily boost an economy. Cameron is basing this whole folly on absolutely nothing other than a Keynesian whim.
    ICE is fun though on Europass.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1190.

    Does anyone in HS2 or the BBC know the Liverpool is? Thought not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1189.

    4 Minutes ago
    What waste of money spend £32 billion on the NHS or elderley care , also one of the most depraved areas of the country Stoke on Trent is by-passed as usual
    Depraved? That's a pretty nasty insult to throw at a whole area, isn't it? Most Stoke people I know are decent, honest folk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1188.

    I reckon we'll land someone on the Moon before we see this up & running!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1187.


    "Or no railway because you don't care?"

    But that's the point. I do care. I'd absolutely love to use the railway and be able to work or relax while I commute.

    But by the time we have thrown all this money into this project, we could've re-opened thousands of disused railway stations around the country. Not just a built a handful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1186.

    I just wonder if the proposed stations and routes are designed to free up the North to expand and become more economically prosperous(?) or simply to suck more people from further afield into London - the one place that does need more tax payer money!

    As some have said i would rather spend £32b on regenration of northern areas which have been left to neglect by successive governments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1185.

    As for the Beeching cuts that some have been comenting on, I know of work underway in West Yorkshire for rebuilding two railway stations between Leeds and Bradford after being closed in the 70s, opening up new areas for regeneration, business and growth. Network rail are getting round to opening the old stations, they're just taking their sweet, sweet time about it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1184.

    For those who don't know about Toton, from a well-known internet encyclopaedia:
    "Toton is a small suburb of Nottingham. It forms part of the Greater Nottingham urban area, and is in the Borough of Broxtowe. The inhabited area is contained within the electoral ward of Toton and Chilwell Meadows. In 2001, the population of this ward was 7298."

  • rate this

    Comment number 1183.

    And who realistically is going to be able to afford to regularly use HS2?

    The wealthy, that's who but only if they choose to rather than use their private jets.

    There are many ways to stimulate economic growth which bbenefit the masses - HS2 simply benefits a minority few while the majority will pay through taxation and some will be forced to loose their homes - TOTALLY AND MORALLY REPUGNANT

  • rate this

    Comment number 1182.

    @1156 YES!! Thats exactly what we want, Roads that take us to places that we actually need to get to instead of miles away, followed by a stinking bus, tube or taxi ride. We can use that (more) modern invention called the car, which is generally cheaper than a train now a days and again when I'm done I don't need the inconvenience of 2 taxi rides before and after my journey home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1181.

    As much as I like rail I'm not sure this project is so useful, for the distance traveller the time saving isn't so remarkable (given that we are talking so far in the future) most business can be done by IT links.
    It would make more sense to open up some of the old branch lines and help commuters get to the more local cities and towns where they actually have to be and take some strain off road.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1180.

    Missing the point . . Give me strength . .

    Everyone accepts that railways are upgraded and repaired on an ongoing basis.

    What are you supposed to do ?

    Deliberately invest in OLD TECHNOLOGY just to be peevish.

    If I had my way they would be building a maglev under the Chilterns at a cost of £50 bn. . = £2.5 bn a year.

    Again . . What transport link do you think we should have in 2033?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1179.

    Meanwhile Iran has put a Monkey in Space.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1178.

    One gets the impression that the people making these decisions don't travel on the railways as a humble commuter. An inch of snow and it stops and even on Eurostar with no 3rd rail, reliability is poor at best. How about getting what we have running efficiently! Then perhaps the railways can consider building new infrastructure THAT WORKS and clamp down on outrageous contract construction rates.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1177.


    3 Minutes ago

    @1084 No, The £32 billion cost over 20 years is for the entire network, not just one phase but the benefits will be a lot greater than £32 billion
    Just keep saying it and hope someone might be daft enough to believe it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1176.

    This extremely costly exercise will cut journey times from London to Birmingham by half an hour. I have a radical alternative. If you are travelling from London to Birmingham by train and wish to arrive half an hour early get up half an hour earlier? No? Why not?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1175.

    1166.Bastiat - the Deutschebahn ICE's are pretty cool aren't they? I hear they're coming to London soon... They already have high speed intercity rail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1174.

    This is all well and good in the grand scheme of things. But as I continually say its no point listen to what the tories say, its what they do. In my kneck of the woods it has taken them after first promising to electrify the line 30 years ago and still we wait. Working on the Channel Tunnel for 5yrs, they refused to put money where their mouth was. And the length of time it will take... joke!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1173.

    germany has high speed rail, plenty of it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_Germany


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