High Speed 2

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a high-speed railway line that is under construction in the United Kingdom with the new track stretching from London to Birmingham, the East Midlands and North West England. The railway will be the country's second purpose-built high-speed line, the first being HS1, the connection from London to the Channel Tunnel. Dedicated high-speed HS2 track will serve three cities (London, Birmingham and Manchester), plus Crewe as well as Manchester Airport and Birmingham Airport.

High Speed 2
High Speed 2 logo.svg
UK High Speed 2 rail map.png
Overview
Status
  • Under construction:
    • Phase 1 target date: 2029–2033[1]
  • Planned:
    • Phase 2a target date: 2029–2033
    • Phase 2b target date: 2040–2045 [2]
Locale
TerminiLondon Euston
Stations
  • High-speed network
    • Phase 1: four
    • Phase 2a: one
    • Phase 2b: three
  • Conventional network
    • 14
  • Total: 21 high-speed and conventional rail
  • Served by HS2 track:
    • eight
Websitewww.hs2.org.uk Edit this at Wikidata
Service
TypeHigh-speed railway
SystemNational Rail
Technical
Line length
  • Phase 1: 230 km (140 miles)[3]
  • Full network: 530 km (330 miles)
Number of tracksDouble track
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Loading gaugeUIC GC
Electrification25 kV AC overhead
Operating speed360 km/h (225 mph) maximum, but 330 km/h (205 mph) routinely.[1]
Schematic map

Manchester Metrolink Manchester Piccadilly
Leeds
Manchester Metrolink Airport interchange Manchester Airport High Speed
Sheffield Sheffield Supertram
Crewe
Chesterfield
East Midlands Hub Nottingham Express Transit
 
Phase 1
Phase 2
 
boundary
 
Phase 1
Phase 2
 
boundary
Midland Metro Birmingham New Street
Birmingham Curzon Street Midland Metro
Birmingham Moor Street
Airport interchange Birmingham International
Birmingham Interchange Parking
Old Oak Common Elizabeth line London Overground London Underground
London Underground London Overground Crossrail 2 Euston
pedestrian walkway to
St Pancras International London Underground Thameslink Eurostar

National Rail interchange with National Rail at all stations

At its southern end the line terminates at London Euston, while the northernmost point is at Golborne, near Wigan, west of the Pennine Hills, where trains progress onto the conventional rail West Coast Main Line to Scotland.

There are to be seven branches off the spine. Two large junctions are planned, at Millington east of Warrington and Water Orton near Coleshill east of Birmingham. The junction at Millington will take HS2 trains in three directions. The first exit from the junction is west towards Warrington on Northern Powerhouse Rail track and on to Liverpool on conventional rail, the second exit is north towards Golborne where HS2 trains run onto the West Coast Mainline destined for Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the third is east towards Manchester via Manchester airport. The junction at Water Orton near Coleshill will take HS2 trains to the east of the Pennines as far as East Midlands Parkway station. From there, HS2 trains will proceed north on conventional track to the cities of Derby, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle. As of April 2022, comments attributed to Grant Shapps, the UK Government's Transport Secretary, have cast some doubt on whether the Golborne link will be built.

HS2 will have two classes of trains capable of operating at the line's design speed of 400 km/h (250 mph). One class is dedicated for HS2 track, the other operates on both HS2 track and existing conventional track, reaching locations off the HS2 line using a mixture of HS2/conventional network services. Using a mixture of high-speed and conventional track, towns and cities off the high-speed spine will be served by the latter type of trains.

Five new stations are to be built along with updates to stations to accommodate HS2 services.

The project is in three phases. Phase 1, which is under construction, is from London to a junction with the West Coast Main Line near Lichfield with a branch to Birmingham. Construction on the line began in 2020 and tunnelling for the first phase began under the Chiltern hills just outside London in 2021. Phase 2a, from Lichfield to another junction with the existing rail network at Crewe, has achieved royal assent but full construction has not yet commenced. Parliamentary approval is needed for phase 2b from Crewe to the North West, and from the West Midlands to East Midlands Parkway where HS2 joins the conventional rail Midland Main Line. Detailed design has not yet begun for Northern Powerhouse Rail of which HS2 will share some of its tracks.

The project has been subject to both support and opposition. Supporters of the project believe that the additional capacity and reliability provided by HS2 will cater for pre-COVID rising passenger numbers while driving further modal shift to rail. Opponents believe that the project is neither environmentally nor financially sustainable. In 2019, in response to criticism, the government ordered a review of the project chaired by the project's former chairman, Douglas Oakervee, which recommended that the entire project proceed as planned. However, the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands released in November 2021 cut back the project, integrating a section of HS2 tracks with Northern Powerhouse Rail.

The original design for HS2 was a "Y" network, with two legs forking at Birmingham to Manchester/Golborne and Leeds/York. In November 2021 – as part of the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands – it was announced that most of the eastern leg of phase 2b from Birmingham via the East Midlands to Leeds/York would be dropped. The branch from Coleshill near Birmingham towards Nottingham remains with the route diverted to the existing East Midlands Parkway station where trains can continue north onto the conventional rail Midland Main Line to serve Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. The London to Leeds and Newcastle services will use an upgraded conventional rail East Coast Main Line. Leeds and Newcastle trains to Birmingham will use HS2 track from East Midlands Parkway to Birmingham. The plan added a Warrington stop on the HS2 classic-compatible service to Liverpool, sharing Northern Powerhouse Rail track between Millington junction and Warrington.

The construction costs of HS2 were estimated in 2010 to be between £30.9 billion and £36 billion; in 2015, this estimate was combined with the cost of rolling stock and adjusted for inflation to give a budget of £56.6 billion. Oakervee's review in 2019 estimated the project would cost up to £87 billion at 2019 prices for the originally envisioned "Y" network. As of 2020, the budget envelope was £98 billion.

HistoryEdit

 
Original HS2 'Y' plan

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 67-mile-long (108 km) 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).[4]

Following a review by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition,[5] a route was opened to public consultation in December 2010,[6][7] 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,[8] with alterations designed to minimise the visual, noise, and other environmental impacts of the line.[6]

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.[9][10] 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.[11] 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.[12] Phase 2a received royal assent in February 2021.[13]

One of the stated aims of the project is to increase the capacity of the railway network. It is envisaged that the introduction of HS2 will free up space on existing railway lines by removing a number of express services, allowing additional local train services to run and enabling the network to handle increased passenger numbers.[14] Network Rail considers that constructing a new high-speed railway will be more cost-effective and less disruptive than upgrading the existing conventional rail network.[15] The DfT has forecast that improved connectivity will have a positive economic impact, and that favourable journey times and ample capacity will generate a modal shift from air and road to rail.[1]

Oakervee ReviewEdit

On 21 August 2019, the Department for Transport (DfT) ordered an independent review of the project. The review was chaired by the British Douglas Oakervee who is a civil engineer and was a HS2 non-executive chairman for nearly two years.[16][17] The review was published by the DfT on 11 February 2020, alongside a statement from the Prime Minister confirming that HS2 would go ahead in full, with reservations.[18][19] Oakervee's conclusions were that the original rationale for High Speed 2—to provide capacity and reliability on the rail network—was still valid, and no "shovel-ready" interventions existed that could deployed within the timeframe of the project. As a consequence, Oakervee recommended that the project go ahead as planned, with a series of recommendations. After concluding the project should proceed, the review recommended a further review of HS2 which will be undertaken by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, concentrating on reducing costs and over-specification. Measures such as reducing the speed of trains and their frequency, and general cost-cutting predominately affecting Phase 2b, will be assessed.[20] On 15 April 2020, formal approval was given to construction companies to start work on the project.[21]

Integrated Rail PlanEdit

On 18 November 2021 the government's delayed Integrated Rail Plan was finally published.[22] The plan as published significantly affected parts of the HS2 programme including curtailing much of the eastern leg, and sharing high-speed track from Millington to Warrington with Northern Powerhouse Rail. Northern Powerhouse Rail will have new west-east track from Warrington Bank Quay Low Level to the Millington HS2 junction, and from Manchester to Marsden just inside Yorkshire. Northern Powerhouse Rail will share a section of HS2 track in between from Millington to Manchester. HS2 will share Northern Powerhouse Rail track from Warrington to Millington.

HS2 is a single high-speed line, a high-speed spine, from London up the northwest coast of England to Golborne via Birmingham. Essentially HS2 parallels the conventional rail West Coast Main Line branching into it at four points along its length. At its northern extremity, the HS2 track will merge into the West Coast Main Line north of Golborne. There will be eight branches onto existing conventional lines in the Midlands and North West. There are no branches to southern England destinations. Ten stations will be on the dedicated high-speed rail track. Most destinations served by HS2 trains do so on conventional rail track, using the spine of HS2. The stations on new dedicated HS2 track are:

  1. London Euston;
  2. Old Oak Common;
  3. Birmingham airport;
  4. Birmingham Curzon Street;
  5. East Midlands Parkway;
  6. Crewe junction;
  7. Manchester airport (depending on private funding);[23]
  8. Manchester Piccadilly station;

The integrated Rail Plan proposed a study to connect Leeds to a dedicated HS2 track.

Subsequent to publication of the IRP, in April 2022, the transport secretary Grant Shapps gave MP Sir Graham Brady "categorical, verbal assurances" that the Millington to Golborne section of HS2 will never make it through Parliament.[24] The Department of Transport stated that the Government is considering the recommendations of the UCR and will publish its response to Millington to Golborne section of HS2.[25]

OmissionsEdit

The plan omits building dedicated high-speed track north of East Midlands Parkway station, where instead HS2 trains will proceed north on an upgraded conventional rail Midland Main Line to reach Derby, Chesterfield, Nottingham and Sheffield centres from London and Birmingham. An upgraded conventional rail East Coast Main Line will be used for Newcastle and Leeds services to London instead of HS2. Leeds and Newcastle will have longer journey times to London than the previous HS2 proposal, with Sheffield's access by the Midland Main Line equalling HS2 journey times from London. Newcastle and Leeds will still use the HS2 section from East Midland Parkway station to Birmingham for services to Birmingham.

Runcorn was to be served by HS2 trains.[26] HS2 trains will access Runcorn temporarily until trains to Liverpool access the city via Warrington. At this point Runcorn will be omitted from HS2. The West Coast Main Line spur through Runcorn was recommended to be used for local services and freight.[27] Some commentators state that Bradford is the biggest loser.

AdditionsEdit

However, the plan has given the centres of Derby and Nottingham access to HS2 trains from Birmingham and London. The original proposal had a hub station at Toton serving the East Midlands between the two cities. The existing stations at Derby and Nottingham will be served by HS2 trains entering the cities on conventional tracks from East Midlands Parkway station. Warrington will have high-speed Northern Powerhouse Rail track shared by HS2 direct to a new station in the town at east-west aligned Warrington Bank Quay low-level station. High speed Northern Powerhouse Rail track from the east merges onto conventional track at the station.[28] The conventional track leaves the west side of the station onwards to Liverpool.

The Union Connectivity Review of November 2021 looked at connections between the nations of the UK giving several recommendations having implications for HS2.[29]

RouteEdit

Branches and junctionsEdit

The branches off the main high-speed HS2 railway line and shared HS2/Northern Powerhouse Rail line are at:

  1. Coleshill east of Birmingham west to Birmingham Curzon Street;
  2. Coleshill east of Birmingham east to East Midlands Parkway where HS2 track branches into the Midland Main Line;
  3. Lichfield to the West Coast Main Line. This branch will be used for all trains heading north of Lichfield after phase 1, however after 2a will only be used for trains calling at Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield;
  4. directly north of Crewe to the West Coast Main Line. This will be used for HS2 trains heading north from the Crewe Hub, and also into the hub from the north;
  5. directly south of Crewe to the West Coast Main Line. This will be used for HS2 trains heading south from the Crewe Hub, and also into the hub from the south;
  6. Millington with HS2 track north to Golborne, then continuing on the conventional rail West Coast Main Line to Scotland;
  7. Millington junction with shared HS2 track east to Manchester;
  8. Millington junction with shared Northern Powerhouse Rail track west to Warrington.

There are two major four-way high-speed junctions on the line, at Coleshill east of Birmingham and Millington between Warrington and Manchester. Both Junctions project trains north, south, east and west. The junction at Crewe, the Crewe Hub, is primarily a conventional rail junction with a station capable of serving high-speed trains central to the junction. There will be access points from high-speed HS2 track north and south of the junction. High-speed trains can bypass the junction using high-speed track though a north-south aligned tunnel bored under the station and junction.

Phase 1: London to BirminghamEdit

 
Phase 1 of HS2: London to Birmingham

Phase 1 will create a new high-speed line between London and Birmingham by approximately 2031. A high-speed link will also be provided to the existing conventional rail West Coast Main Line just north of Lichfield in Staffordshire, providing services to the North West of England and Scotland. The line is flanked by the West Coast Main Line and Chiltern Line.

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. The Phase 1 line is 176 kilometres (109 mi) long[30] and the journey will take 49 minutes.[31][1]

The route to the north begins at Euston station in London, entering a twin-bore tunnel near the Mornington Street bridge at the station's throat. After continuing through to Old Oak Common underground station, trains proceed through a second 8-mile (13 km) tunnel emerging to the surface at its northwestern portal.[32] The line crosses the Colne Valley Regional Park on the Colne Valley Viaduct. The line then enters 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 A413 road and the London to Aylesbury Line, to the west of Wendover. This is a green cut-and-cover tunnel under farmland, with soil spread over the final construction in order to reduce the visual impact of the line, reduce noise and allow use of the land above the tunnels for agriculture.[33] After passing west of Aylesbury, the route will run along the corridor of the former Great Central Main Line, joining the alignment north of Quainton Road to travel through rural Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire up to Mixbury, south of Brackley, from where it will cross the A43 and open countryside through South Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, passing immediately south of Southam. After progressing through a tunnel bored under Long Itchington Wood, the route will pass through rural areas between Kenilworth and Coventry crossing 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, all crossed on viaducts; also close to Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre. North of the station a complex triangular junction, with six tracks at one section, west of Coleshill will link the HS2 Birmingham city centre spur with the line continuing north, from which phase 2a proceeds and phase 2b will be developed. The northern limit for Phase 1 will be a connection onto the West Coast Main Line near Lichfield. This part of the line would be operative with compatible high-speed trains moving onto the conventional track West Coast Main Line while the western leg of Phase 2 is under construction. The Birmingham city centre spur will be routed along the Water Orton rail corridor, the Birmingham to Derby line through Castle Bromwich, and through a tunnel past Bromford.

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.[34]

Phase 2: Birmingham to Manchester and East Midlands ParkwayEdit

Phase 2, is the section from Birmingham to Golborne, and Manchester, and the branch from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway. Phase 2 is split into three sub-phases:

  • Phase 2a, West Midlands to Crewe;[35]
  • Phase 2b, Crewe to Manchester and Golborne
  • HS2 East, a branch from the West Midlands to East Midlands Parkway.

West Midlands to Crewe – Phase 2aEdit

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. Phase 2a was approved by the House of Commons in July 2019,[36] and received Royal Assent on 11 February 2021.[37]

 
Crewe station looking NE showing the six converging conventional railway lines

The Crewe Hub is an important addition to the HS2 network, giving additional connectivity to existing lines radiating from the Crewe junction.[38] The components are:

  • An upgraded station at Crewe, to cope with high-speed trains.
  • A tunnel under the station to allow HS2 trains to bypass the station while remaining on high-speed tracks.
  • Branches onto the West Coast Main Line immediately to the south and north of the station, to allow HS2 trains to enter the station.[39]

Crewe to Manchester and Golborne – Phase 2b, western sectionEdit

HS2 track continues north from Crewe. As the line passes through Cheshire at Millington, it branches to Manchester using a triangular junction. At this junction, the line will also branch to Warrington on Northern Powerhouse Rail track. The Manchester branch veers east in a speed restricting circuitous route around Tatton, proceeding through a station at Manchester 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. Manchester Piccadilly High Speed station will accommodate HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail high-speed trains. From Millington junction it is proposed a section of dedicated HS2 track called the Golbourne Link will continue to an endpoint at Golborne where it merges into the West Coast Main Line.[40][41]

In April 2022, it was reported that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had responded to local MPs objecting to the section, by stating that it might not make it through parliament.[41][40]

West Midlands to Midland Main Line branch – HS2 EastEdit

East of Birmingham the Phase 1 line branches at the Coleshill junction progressing approximately 32 miles (51 km) northeast, roughly parallel to the M42 motorway ending at East Midlands Parkway near Nottingham. The line branches into the Midland Main Line with trains only progressing north from the branch.[42]

Possible future phasesEdit

There is one DfT proposal to build a 20-mile-long (32 km) high-speed line from Leeds south to Clayton branching into the Midland Main Line. Whether this will be part of HS2 or Northern Powerhouse Rail has not been determined.[22]

LiverpoolEdit

The Liverpool City Region was omitted from direct HS2 track access. 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.[43]

In February 2016, Liverpool City Council offered £2 billion towards funding a direct HS2 line into the city centre. Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, 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. Transport for the North's strategic plan recognised the need for a new station to accommodate HS2 and NPR trains.[44][45][46]

In the HS2 plan, after phase 2a of HS2 opens, Liverpool trains will use the HS2 track from London as far as Crewe where they join the existing conventional rail track on the West Coast Main Line to proceed to Liverpool Lime Street station with a stop at Runcorn.

The Integrated Rail Plan proposes to connect Liverpool to HS2 on a reused and upgraded Fiddlers Ferry freight line from Ditton junction in Halebank to a new station at Warrington Bank Quay Low-Level which will be shared with Northern Powerhouse Rail trains, then onto high-speed track from Warrington to London.[47] Transport for the North's preferred option was a new high-speed line from Liverpool to the HS2 track into Manchester from Millington junction with a stop at Warrington, which would also double as a connection from Liverpool to HS2 via Millington. The revised plans under the integrated rail plan would see that high-speed line only start at Warrington with HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail trains reaching Liverpool Lime Street railway station from Warrington on upgraded conventional rail lines. The Liverpool City Region metro mayor, Steve Rotheram, along with Greater Manchester's mayor Andy Burnham, was scathing of the Integrated Rail Plan.[48]

ScotlandEdit

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.[49]

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".[50]

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.[51] The plan was cancelled in 2016.[52] In May 2015, HS2 Ltd had concluded that there was "no business case" to extend HS2 north into Scotland, and that high-speed rail services should run north on upgraded conventional track.[53]

Bristol and CardiffEdit

A Department for Transport study on towns and cities that would economically disbenefit from HS2 was undertaken.[54][55][56][57] Prior to the cancellation of most of the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds/York, there were proposals to build a high-speed line, loosely named HS3, between Birmingham to economically harmed Cardiff or Bristol, creating a "X" shaped high-speed network with Birmingham at the centre.[58]

Connection to other linesEdit

Existing main linesEdit

A key feature of the HS2 proposals is that the new high-speed track will mix with an existing conventional track to form a complete network. Purpose-built conventional trains will be capable of operating on the high-speed track at full line speeds, then seamlessly run onto conventional tracks at speeds of 226 km/h (140 mph) or below. This will enable trains to reach destinations served only by slower high-speed tracks, such as Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh, using a mixture of conventional and high-speed track.

The proposed connections from the new high-speed tracks onto existing conventional tracks will be at junctions on the network at the following locations:[59]

West Coast Main Line[59]

Midland Main Line

Northern Powerhouse Rail

The route from London to the West Midlands will be the first stage of a line to Scotland,[60] with passengers travelling to or from Scotland on through trains using a mixture of new high-speed and existing conventional tracks, with a saving of 45 minutes from the opening of Phase 1.[61] 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.[62]

Planned stationsEdit

London and Birmingham (Phase 1)Edit

 
Euston Terminus and the nearby terminus of High Speed 1 at St Pancras

Central LondonEdit

High Speed 2 shares a southern terminus with the West Coast Main Line at 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. Upon completion, Euston will have 24 National Rail platforms, not including those on the London Underground's Northern and Victoria lines.

As part of the HS2 project, Euston will be remodelled to integrate with the current conventional rail station, and improved connections to Euston Square tube station, which serves the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines will be provided.[63] Euston will also be better connected with HS1's terminus at St Pancras, including a proposed station on Crossrail 2 under the British Library. St Pancras's own links with King's Cross station will effectively create a "mega-station" along the Euston Road from Euston Square in the west to King's Cross St Pancras in the east.[64]

West LondonEdit

 
Planned transport links of Old Oak Common railway station

The DfT's command paper 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.[65] Old Oak Common railway station will also be connected, via out of station interchange, with London Overground stations at Old Oak Common Lane on the North London line and Hythe Road on the West London line.[66]

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) approved planning permission for the UK's largest new-build railway station at Old Oak Common in May 2020. The construction contract was awarded to Balfour Beatty, Vinci and Systra (BBVS). The station's 850 metre box will have fourteen platforms.[67]

Birmingham airportEdit

 
The proposed "Birmingham Interchange"

Titled Birmingham Interchange the station will be a through station situated in suburban Solihull, within a triangle of land enclosed by the M42, A45, and the A452. A people mover with a capacity of over 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction will connect the station to the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham Airport, and the existing Birmingham International railway station.[68][69] The AirRail Link people mover already operates between Birmingham International station and the airport. In addition, there is a proposal to extend the West Midlands Metro to serve the station.[70]

In 2010, 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.[71]

Birmingham city centreEdit

 
Work underway on clearing the site at Birmingham Curzon Street in 2020

A terminus named Birmingham Curzon Street will be built at the end of a branch, connected to the mainline via a triangle junction at Coleshill.[72] A station of the same name existed on the site between 1838 and 1966; the surviving Grade I listed station building will be retained and renovated.[73]

The site is immediately adjacent to Moor Street station, and approximately 400 metres (0.25 mi) northeast of New Street station, which is separated from Curzon Street and Moor Street by the Bull Ring. 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).[74][75][76] One of Birmingham's oldest pubs, the Fox and Grapes, was demolished to make way for the new developments in September 2018.[77] The West Midlands Metro will be extended to serve the station.[78]

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.[79][80] The proposed Eastside development will now include a new museum quarter, with the original 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.[81]

Clearing the site for construction commenced in December 2018.[82][83] Grimshaw Architects received planning permission for three applications in April 2020. The new station is expected to have a zero-carbon rating and over 2,800 m2 of solar panels.[73]

Birmingham to Manchester (Phases 2a and 2b)Edit

Proposals for the station locations were announced on 28 January 2013.

Birmingham to Crewe (Phase 2a)Edit

HS2 will pass through Staffordshire and Cheshire. The line will run in a tunnel under the Crewe junction by-passing the station.[84] The HS2 line will be linked to the West Coast Main Line via a grade-separated junction just south of Crewe, enabling "conventional compatible" trains exiting the high-speed line to call at the existing Crewe station.[85][86] In 2014, the chairman of HS2 advocated a dedicated hub station in Crewe.[87] In November 2015 it was announced that the Crewe hub completion would be brought forward to 2027.[88] 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 West Coast Main Line.[39]

Manchester Airport (Phase 2b)Edit

An HS2 station officially named Manchester Airport High Speed station is a planned through station serving Manchester Airport. It was recommended in 2013 by local authorities during the consultation stage. Construction will depend on part funding by private investment from the Manchester Airports Group.[90][91]

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-metre (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.[92]

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 tram line to connect the HS2 station with the existing airport railway station.[93][94][95][96]

If the station is built, it is estimated that the average journey time from London Euston to Manchester Airport would be 59 minutes.[97]

Manchester Piccadilly High Speed (Phase 2b)Edit

A new Manchester Piccadilly High Speed station is planned to be built on a viaduct parallel to the north side of the existing station.[98] The station will have six platforms on three islands for both terminating High Speed 2 trains from London and Birmingham as well as Northern Powerhouse Rail trains to Liverpool, Warrington, Huddersfield, Leeds and beyond. The present Piccadilly Metrolink stop is proposed to be relocated from ground-level below the existing station platforms to a new larger four-platform stop located underground below the high speed station. Provision for a second ground-level Metrolink stop at the eastern end of the high speed station to service future Metrolink extensions, to be called Piccadilly Central, also form part of the plans.

ConstructionEdit

 
HS2 construction near Leamington Spa in August 2021

The main stages of construction officially began on 4 September 2020,[99] following previous delays. 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.[100]

Euston station in LondonEdit

In October 2018, demolition began on the former carriage sheds at Euston station. This will allow the start of construction at the throat of the station at Mornington Street bridge, and twin-bore 8-mile (13 km) tunnels to West Ruislip.[101][102] The taxi rank at Euston was moved to a temporary site 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 was scheduled for ten months.[103]

In June 2020, workers finished the demolition of the western ramp and canopy of the station. This part of the station had housed the parcels depot which fell into disuse after parcel traffic shifted to road.[104][105]

Chiltern tunnelsEdit

In July 2020, work was completed on a 17-metre (56 ft) high headwall at the southern portal of the twin-bore tunnel.[106][107] The 10-mile (16 km) Chiltern tunnels will take three years to dig using two 2,000–tonne tunnel boring machines (TBM).[108]

The tunnels are lined with concrete which is cast in sections at a purpose-built facility at the southern portal; the first sections were cast in March 2021.[109] Tunnelling began in May 2021, with TBM Florence, moving at a speed of up to 15 m (49 ft) per day, is projected to take three and a half years to complete.[107] The second TBM, Cecilia, launched in July 2021.[110]

Colne Valley ViaductEdit

The Colne Valley Viaduct is a 2.1-mile (3.4 km) bridge under construction to carry the high speed railway over the Colne Valley Regional Park in Hillingdon, west London.[111] The viaduct is between the Northolt tunnel which carries HS2 from Old Oak Common railway station to Ruslip in Outer London and the Chiltern tunnel.

When completed, it will be the longest railway viaduct in the UK.[112]

Other sitesEdit

In December 2021, TBM Dorothy was launched tunnelling under Long Itchington Wood. It is scheduled to complete the first bore in spring 2022, before being returned to its initial position to complete the second parallel bore.[113]

Opposition to constructionEdit

A protest camp was established at Harvil Road in the Colne Valley Regional Park in 2017, by environmental activists intending to protect the wildlife habitats of bats and owls. The protesters asserted that freshwater aquifer would be affected by HS2 construction works and this would impact London's water supply. The camp was populated by individuals including members of the Green Party and Extinction Rebellion. In January 2020, HS2 bailiffs began to evict the site after HS2 has exercised the right to compulsory purchase the land from Hillingdon council, which had not been prepared to sell the land otherwise.[114] A prosecution of two activists accused of aggravated trespass had previously collapsed in 2019 when HS2 was unable to prove it owned the land the activists were allegedly trespassing upon.[115]

During the clearance of woodland along the route in early 2020, the group HS2 Rebellion squatted on a site in the Colne Valley aiming to block construction; the protesters argued that public money would be more suited to supporting the National Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic.[116] HS2 and Hillingdon council both moved to get separate injunctions allowing them to remove the squatters.[117] Another camp was set up in March 2020 at Jones' Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire. Activists, including Swampy, were evicted from tree-houses there in October 2020.[118]

In January 2021 it was revealed that protesters had dug a tunnel underneath Euston Square Gardens. The protesters were criticised for endangering themselves and emergency services personnel, and for being "costly to the taxpayer".[119][120] In June 2021, HS2 stated that protests had so far cost the company £75 million.[121]

In the Spring of 2021, the Bluebell Woods Protection Camp camp was set up at Cash's Pit, adjacent to the A51 road, on the line of the proposed route as it passes north of the village of Swynnerton in the county of Staffordshire.

There have been incidents of violence directed towards HS2 workers.[122][123]

OperationEdit

The government proposes that HS2 will provide up to 18 trains an hour by 2033 to and from London.[124] The service pattern is not yet finalised; the 2020 business case contains a suggested service pattern. Some services are to operate as two connected units and to split to serve multiple northern destinations.[125]

Proposed service patternEdit

After an initial period with a reduced service running north from Old Oak Common, a full nine train-per-hour service from London Euston is proposed to run after Phase 1 opens. While mostly the same, the proposed service pattern is different depending on whether Phase 2a opens alongside Phase 1.

London to Birmingham
Route tph Calling at Train
length
London EustonBirmingham Curzon Street 3 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange 400 m
London to the North West and Scotland
Route tph Calling at Train
length
London EustonManchester Piccadilly 3 Old Oak Common, Wilmslow (1tph), Stockport 200 m
London EustonMacclesfield 1 Old Oak Common, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent
Will only run if phase 2a is open.
200 m
London Euston – Liverpool Lime Street 1 Old Oak Common, Stafford, Runcorn
Will call at Crewe in lieu of Stafford if phase 2a is open.
200 m
1 Old Oak Common, Crewe, Runcorn
Will run combined with the Lancaster train (see below) between London and Crewe if phase 2a is open.
200 m
London Euston – Lancaster 1 Old Oak Common, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston
Will run combined with the Liverpool train (see above) between London and Crewe if phase 2a is open.
200 m
London Euston – Glasgow Central 1 Old Oak Common, Preston, Carlisle 200 m

When the whole of Phase 2 is open, the following service pattern is proposed:

London to Birmingham
Route tph Calling at Train
length
London EustonBirmingham Curzon Street 3 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (2tph) 400 m
London to the North West and Scotland
Route tph Calling at Train
length
London EustonManchester Piccadilly 3 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Manchester Airport High Speed 400 m
London Euston – Macclesfield 1 Old Oak Common, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent 200 m
London Euston – Liverpool Lime Street 1 Old Oak Common, Crewe, Runcorn 200 m
London Euston – Liverpool Lime Street and Lancaster 1 Old Oak Common, Crewe...
The two portions will divide/attach at Crewe.
2 ×
200 m
Liverpool portion:
Runcorn
Lancaster portion:
Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston
London Euston – Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central 2 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston, Carlisle...
The two portions will divide/attach at Carlisle.
2 ×
200 m
Edinburgh portion:
Edinburgh Haymarket
Glasgow portion:
non-stop
London to Yorkshire and the North East
Route tph Calling at Train
length
Birmingham to the North West and Scotland
Route tph Calling at Train
length
Birmingham Curzon StreetManchester Piccadilly 2 Manchester Airport High Speed 200 m
Birmingham Curzon Street – Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central 1 Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District (1tp2h),[a] Penrith (1tp2h),[a] Carlisle...
1tp2h will continue to/from Edinburgh Waverley, calling at Haymarket.
1tp2h will continue to/from Glasgow Central, calling at Lockerbie and Motherwell.
200 m
Birmingham to Yorkshire and the North East
Route tph Calling at Train
length
Birmingham Curzon StreetLeeds 2 East Midlands Parkway 200 m
Birmingham Curzon Street – Newcastle 1 East Midlands Parkway, York, Darlington, Durham 200 m
 
A vector map of proposed HS2 services (as of September 2020) after Phase 2 is fully open.

OperatorEdit

Services on High Speed 2 are included within the West Coast Partnership franchise, which was awarded to Avanti West Coast—a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia—when the franchise commenced in December 2019. Avanti West Coast will be responsible for running all aspects of the service including ticketing, trains and the maintenance of the infrastructure.[126][127] The new franchise will run for the first five years of HS2's operation.[128][129]

FaresEdit

The government has stated that it would "assume a fares structure in line with that of the existing railway", and HS2 should attract sufficient passengers to not have to charge premium fares.[130] 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."[131]

CapacityEdit

Peak hour capacity at Euston[132]
Type Current capacity Capacity post‑HS2
Slow commuter 3,900 6,500
Fast commuter 1,600 6,800
Intercity 5,800 1,800
High-speed 0 19,800
Total 11,300 34,900

HS2 will carry up to 26,000 people per hour,[9] with anticipated annual passenger numbers of 85 million.[133] The line will be used intensively, with up to 17 trains per hour travelling to and from Euston. As all trains will be capable of the same speed, capacity is increased as faster trains will not need to reduce speed for slower freight and commuter trains. By diverting the fastest services to run on HS2, capacity is released on the West Coast Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line allowing for more slower freight trains and local, regional and commuter services.[134] 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".[135]

InfrastructureEdit

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 Continental European structure gauge (as was HS1) and will conform to European Union technical standards for interoperability for high-speed rail.[136] HS2 Ltd's report assumed a GC structure gauge for passenger capacity estimations,[137] with a maximum design speed of 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph).[138] Initially, trains would run at a maximum speed of 360 kilometres per hour (225 mph).[139]

Signalling will be based on the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) with in-cab signalling in order to resolve the visibility issues associated with lineside signals at speeds over 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph).

At first, platform height was to be 760 millimetres (2 ft 6 in), which is one of the European standard heights;[140] however, new HS2 stations will use a platform height of 1,115 millimetres (3 ft 7.9 in) to improve accessibility and allow for step-free, level access.[141] Trains continuing on to the conventional rail network will encounter platforms at the standard UK height of 915 millimetres (3 ft 0 in) with some variation.[142]

TrainsEdit

 
Proposed design of HS2 rolling stock by Hitachi and Alstom joint venture

In December 2021, DfT and HS2 announced that the rolling stock contract had been awarded to the Hitachi–Alstom joint venture.[143] The trains will be based on the Zefiro V300 family of trains.[144] The first train is expected to be delivered around 2027.[145] Vehicle bodies will be welded and fitted out at the Hitachi facility in Newton Aycliffe, bogies will be manufactured at the Alstom facility in Crewe, and final assembly of body, bogies and other systems will take place at Alstom in Derby.[146]

Procurement timelineEdit

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.

The report proposed the development of two new types of train to make the best use of the line:[139][147]

  • wider and taller trains built to a Continental European loading gauge, which would be confined to the high-speed network (including HS1 and HS2) and other lines cleared to their loading gauge.
  • conventional trains, capable of high-speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high-speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line.[note 1] Such trains would allow operating of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland, although these trains would operate slightly slower than the fastest existing services using tilting trains on conventional 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 conventional trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.[148]

Both types of train would have a maximum speed of at least 360 km/h (225 mph) and a length of 200 metres (660 ft); two units could be joined for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train.[139] 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."[149]

The DfT report also considered the possibility of 'gauge clearance' work on non-high-speed lines as an alternative to conventional trains. This work would involve extensive reconstruction of stations, tunnels and bridges and widening of clearances to allow Continental 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.[139]

Alstom, one of the bidders for the contract to build the trains, proposed in October 2016 tilting HS2 trains to run on HS2 and conventional tracks, to increase overall speeds when running on conventional tracks.[150][151]

The estimated cost of energy for operating HS2 trains on the high-speed network is estimated to be £3.90 per km for 200-metre long trains and £5.00 per km for 260-metre long trains. On the conventional network, the energy costs are £2.00 per km and £2.60 per km respectively.[152]

The first batch of rolling stock for HS2 was specified in the Train Technical Specification issued with the Invitation To Tender (ITT), which was initial published in July 2018, and revised in March 2019 following clarification questions from tenderers.[153] Bidding for the contract to design, build and maintain the trains was opened in 2017 and was originally expected to be awarded in 2019. The first batch includes 54 trainsets with a maximum speed of at least 360 km/h (225 mph) and capability to operate on both HS2 and existing infrastructure.[154]

The following suppliers were shortlisted to tender following the initial 5 June 2019 submission:[155]

In September 2021, the HS2 board endorsed the decision to award the rolling stock manufacturing and maintenance contracts.[159] In November 2021 it was the reported the decision remained with the Department for Transport for approval.[160]

Maintenance depotsEdit

A rolling stock depot will be built in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, covering all of Phase 1 and Phase 2a.[161] In July 2018, the then Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, announced that the rolling stock depot for the eastern leg of Phase 2b would be at Gateway 45 near to the M1 motorway in Leeds.[162][163] An additional depot in Annandale, north of Gretna Green and south of Kirkpatrick Fleming was announced in 2020.[164]

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 site is adjacent to the intersection of HS2 and the East West Rail route.[165] In the working draft environmental statement for Phase 2b, the IMD on the eastern leg is proposed near Staveley, Derbyshire, on a former chemical works site, while Phase 2b, the western leg, will have one near Stone, Staffordshire.[166]

Journey timesEdit

The DfT's latest revised estimates of journey times for some major destinations have been set out in various government documents, including the business cases for each phase and other related documents.

From LondonEdit

To HS2 stationsEdit

London to/from Fastest journey time before HS2

(hrs:min)

Estimated time after Phase 1

(hrs:min)

Estimated

time after Phase 2

(hrs:min)

Estimated Phase 1 reduction Estimated Phase 2 reduction
Birmingham 1:22 0:52 0:30
Manchester 2:07 1:40 Phase 2a: 1:30 Phase 2b: 1:11 0:27 0:54
East Midlands Parkway none[note 2] 0:52 none none[b]
Sources:[168][169][170][171][172]

To other stationsEdit

London to/from Fastest journey time before HS2

(hrs:min)

Fastest journey time after HS2 Phase 2

(hrs:min)

Reduction after HS2 Phase 2
Carlisle 3:15 2:23 0:54
Chesterfield 1:45 1:12 0:33
Crewe 1:30 0:56 0:34
Darlington 2:22 1:50 0:32
Edinburgh 4:22 3:48 0:31
Glasgow 4:30 3:40 0:49
Lancaster 2:25 2:03 0:22
Liverpool 2:03 1:32 0:31
Macclesfield 1:41 1:30 0:11
Newcastle 2:50 2:17 0:32
Oxenholme 2:34 1:56 0:39
Preston 2:08 1:18 0:50
Runcorn 1:53 1:14 0:39
Sheffield 2:01 1:27 0:32
Stafford 1:17 0:55 0:22
Stoke-on-Trent 1:24 1:10 0:10
Warrington 1:44 1:20 0:24
Wigan 1:55 1:34 0:24
York 1:51 1:24 0:26
Sources:[172]

From BirminghamEdit

Birmingham to/from Fastest journey time before HS2

(hrs:min)

Fastest journey time after HS2 Phase 2

(hrs:min)

Reduction after HS2 Phase 2
Carlisle 2:44 2:00 0:44
Darlington 2:15 1:23 0:52
Durham 2:32 1:40 0:52~
Edinburgh 3:57 3:14 0:49
East Midlands Parkway N/A N/A N/A
Glasgow 4:02 3:20 0:40
Lancaster 1:53 1:06 0:47
Leeds 1:58 0:49 1:09
Lockerbie 3:10 2:19 0:51
Manchester 1:28 0:41 0:46
Motherwell 3:43 3:04 0:39
Newcastle 2:52 1:57 0:49
Oxenholme 2:05 1:20 0:45
Penrith 2:27 1:43 0:44
Preston 1:36 0:50 0:46
Wigan 1:22 0:36 0:46
York 1:52 0:57 0:48
Sources:[172]

FundingEdit

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,[173] and the entire Y-shaped 540-kilometre (335 mi) network between £30.9 and £36 billion,[174][173] not including the Manchester Airport station which would be locally funded.[93] 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.[175] 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.[176] In 2014, the most commonly cited cost applied to the project was £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.[177] Over sixty years, the line was estimated to provide £92.2 billion of net benefits and £43.6 billion in new revenue; as a result, the benefit–cost ratio of the project was then estimated to be 2.30; that is, it is projected to provide £2.30 of benefits for every £1 spent.[178]

Cost increases have led to reductions in the planned track; for instance, the link between HS1 and HS2 was later dropped on cost grounds.[179] 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.[180][181] 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.[182] By 2019, Oakervee estimated that the projected cost, in 2019 prices, had increased from £80.7 billion to £87.7 billion—the budget in 2019 prices was at the time of the Oakervee Review only £62.4 billion—and the benefit–cost ratio had dropped to between 1.3 and 1.5.[18] Lord Berkeley, the deputy chair of the Oakervee Review, disagreed with Oakervee's findings and suggested that the cost of the project could now be as high as £170 billion.[183] As of 2020, the budget envelope set out by the DfT is £98 billion.[184] HS2 Ltd tapped into a £4.3 billion contingency fund to meet £1.7 billion of extra costs resulting from delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[185]

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.[43] HS2 received funding from the European Union's Connecting Europe Facility.[186]

Wales' classificationEdit

HS2's classification as an England and Wales project has been heavily criticised by MPs[187] and Welsh Government ministers in Wales, arguing that HS2's classification over Wales, gives little benefit or any reasoning as there is no dedicated high-speed or conventional infrastructure of HS2 planned in Wales, minimal HS2 services to the north of Wales, and a Department for Transport study detailing that overall, HS2 is forecasted to have a "negative economic impact on Wales" as well as on Bristol in England. Wales' classification, as rail infrastructure is not devolved to Wales, means that devolved authorities are entitled to less of the Barnett Formula, when funding is increased to the devolved administrations in proportion to an increase in funding for England or in this case "England and Wales", with the Welsh Government stating it wants its "fair share" from HS2's billions in funding; which the Welsh Government stated would be roughly £5 billion.[188] By February 2020, the Welsh Government received £755 million in HS2-linked funding, with the UK Government stating it was "investing record amounts in Wales' railway infrastructure" and that the Welsh Government has actually received a "significant uplift" in Barnett-based funding due to the UK Government's increased funding of HS2.[189] Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales, stated that Network Rail would invest £1.5 billion in Wales' railways between 2019 and 2024.[55]

Currently trains between north Wales and London take roughly three hours and forty-five minutes, with HS2 set to decrease the travel time between Crewe and London by thirty minutes. However, with no confirmed services directly between Euston and north Wales, passengers could be required to change at Crewe, and use the North Wales Main Line between Crewe and Holyhead, where any improvements have failed to receive funding.[55]

The DfT study estimated that the South Wales economy could lose up to £200 million per year due to the region's "inferior transport infrastructure". The same study highlighted that north Wales could benefit from quicker journey times and a potential boost for the region's economy, with the DfT forecasting a benefit of £50 million from HS2, although a potential £150 million negative economic impact to Wales overall. First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford described in a letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Wales' railway system has been "systematically neglected" and that HS2's funding further contributes to it. HS2 has increased calls for Wales' rail infrastructure to be fully devolved, as it is in Scotland.[190]

In July 2021, the Welsh Affairs Committee advised that HS2 should be reclassified as an "England only" project, allowing Wales to be entitled to its Barnett Formula consequential in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, but the committee also called for the establishment of a "Wales Rail Board" instead of devolving rail infrastructure to Wales, and for the upgrading of the North Wales Main Line.[191][190]

PerspectivesEdit

Government rationaleEdit

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".[192][193] They noted that railway passenger numbers had been growing significantly in recent years—doubling from 1995 to 2015[194]—and that the Rugby – Euston section was expected to have insufficient capacity sometime around 2025.[195] This is despite the West Coast Main Line 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.[196]

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.[197] It says the new line "would improve rail services from London to cities in the North of England and Scotland,[198] and that the chosen route to the west of London will improve passenger transport links to Heathrow Airport".[199][verify] Additionally,the new line will be connected to the Great Western Main Line and Crossrail at Old Oak Common railway station, this will provide links links with East and West London and the Thames Valley.[200]

In launching the project, the DfT announced that HS2 between London and the West Midlands would follow a different alignment from the West Coast Main Line, rejecting the option of further upgrading or building new tracks alongside the West Coast Main Line as being too costly and disruptive, and because the Victorian-era West Coast Main Line alignment was not suitable for very high speeds.[201] A study by Network Rail found that upgrading the existing network to deliver the same extra capacity released by constructing HS2 would require fifteen years of weekend closures. This does not include the additional express seats added by HS2 nor would it deliver any journey time reductions.[15]

SupportEdit

HS2 is officially supported by the Labour Party, Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.[202] 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.[203]

In a report brought out in 2019, the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders group (HSRIL) stated that in order to meet 2050 carbon emissions targets, HS2 must be built.[204] Network Rail support the project and state that upgrading the existing network instead of building HS2 would take longer and cause more disruption to passengers.[15]

OppositionEdit

The Green Party would scrap HS2 and spend the money saved on local transport links.[202] The Brexit Party and the UK Independence Party also oppose the scheme.[205][206] At the local government level, eighteen councils affected by the planned route set up the 51M group, named for the cost of HS2 for each individual constituency in millions of pounds.[207] Before he became Prime Minister, Boris Johnson was personally against HS2.[202] Other former and current Conservative MPs against HS2 include Cheryl Gillan and Liam Fox.[208][209]

Stop HS2 was set up in 2010 to co-ordinate local opposition and campaign on the national level against HS2.[210] In June 2020, it organised a "Rebel Trail" with Extinction Rebellion, which was a protest march of 125 miles (201 km) from Birmingham to London, stopping at camps in Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire and London.[211] Groups such as the Wildlife Trusts and the National Trust oppose the project based on concerns about destruction of local biodiversity.[212]

Environmental and community impactEdit

The impact of HS2 has received particular attention in the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where the line passes through the Misbourne Valley.[213][214] The government announced in January 2011 that two million trees would be planted along sections of the route to mitigate the visual impact.[215] The route was changed so as to tunnel underneath the southern end of the Chilterns, with the line emerging northwest of Amersham.[216] The 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[217] through ancient woodland at a nature reserve at Park Hall near Birmingham.[218] The work on the tunnel extension has started but there is a challenge from local planning authorities that the work does not have permission. The tunnel extension has been referred to the Minister of State for a decision.

Amid concerns that HS2 was carrying out preparatory works during nesting season, Springwatch presenter and conservationist Chris Packham filed for a judicial review of the decision to proceed and an emergency injunction to prevent construction, having crowdfunded £100,000 to cover legal fees. His bid failed before the High Court of Justice, which ruled that a judicial review "had no real prospect of success".[219] Packham was subsequently given leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal, with Lord Justice Lewison ruling that there was "considerable public interest".[220][221] On 31 July 2020, Packham lost his case in the Court of Appeal.[222]

Property demolition, land take and compensationEdit

Phase 1 is estimated to result in the demolition of more than 400 houses: 250 around Euston; 20–30 between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip; around 50 in Birmingham; and the remainder in pockets along the route.[223] 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.[224] These included a 17th-century farm in Uxbridge once visited by Queen Elizabeth I in 1602[225] and the Eagle and Tun pub, which was the set for the UB40 music video for Red Red Wine.[226] In Birmingham, the Curzon Gate student residence and The Fox and Grapes, a derelict pub, were demolished;[227] Birmingham City University requested £30 million in compensation after the plans were announced.[79] Once original plans had been released in 2010, the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) was set up to compensate homeowners whose houses were to be affected by the line at the government's discretion. Phase 1 of the scheme came to an end on 17 June 2010 and Phase 2 ended in 2013.[228]

Ancient woodland impactEdit

The Woodland Trust states that 108 ancient woodlands will be damaged due to HS2, 33 sites of Special Scientific Interest will be affected and 21 designated nature reserves will be destroyed.[212][229] In England, the term "ancient woodland" refers to areas that have been constantly forested since at least 1600. Such areas accommodate a complex and diverse ecology of plants and animals and are recognised as "irreplaceable habitat" by the government.[230][231] 52,000 such sites exist.[125] According to the Trust, 56 hectares (0.6 km2) are threatened with total loss from the construction of Phases 1 and 2.[232] Rare species such as the dingy skipper and white clawed crayfish could see a decreased population or even localised extinction upon the realization of the project.[233] To mitigate the loss, HS2 Ltd says that seven million trees and shrubs will be planted during Phase 1, creating 900 hectares (9 km2) of new woods. A further 33 km2 of natural habitats are also planned.[234] HS2 Ltd disputes the Trust's figure, saying it includes ancient woodlands several kilometres from the route and that only 43 ancient woodlands are directly impacted, of which over 80% will remain intact.[235]

Carbon dioxide emissionsEdit

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.[236] 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.[237]

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.[238] 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);[239] 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 electricity production the case becomes much more favourable.[239]

The High-Speed Rail Command Paper published in March 2010 stated that the project was likely to be roughly carbon neutral.[240] The House of Commons Transport Select Committee report in November 2011 (paragraph 77) concluded that the government's assertion 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.[10]

The Phase 1 environmental statement estimates that 5.8–6.2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions will be involved in the construction of that section of the line, with operation of the line estimated to be carbon negative thereafter; operational emissions, modal shift, and other environmental mitigations—such as tree planting and decarbonisation of the electrical grid—are expected to provide a saving of 3 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions over sixty years of operation. The carbon dioxide emissions per passenger-kilometre in 2030 are estimated to be 8 grams for high-speed rail, as opposed to 22 grams for conventional intercity rail,[note 3] 67 grams for private car transport, and 170  grams for domestic aviation.[241]

The government stated that one-third of the carbon footprint from constructing Phase One results from tunnelling, the amount of which has been increased following requests from local residents to mitigate the impact of the railway on habitats and its visual impact.[125]

NoiseEdit

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 yards) of the preferred route have the potential to experience significant noise impacts.[223] The government has announced that trees planted to create a visual barrier will reduce noise pollution.[215]

Public consultationsEdit

HS2 Ltd announced in March 2012 that it would conduct consultations with local people and organisations along the London to West Midlands route through community forums, planning forums and an environment forum.[242] It confirmed that the consultations would be conducted in line with the terms of the Aarhus Convention.[243] HS2 Ltd set up 25 community forums along Phase 1 in March 2012. The forums were intended to allow local authorities, residents associations, special interest groups and environment bodies in each community forum area to engage with HS2 Ltd.[244] Jeremy Wright, Member of Parliament for Kenilworth and Southam stated in his area the community forums were not a success since HS2 had not provided clear details about the project and took up to 18 months to respond to his constituents.[245]

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.[246] Consultations with those affected were set up over late 2012 and January 2013, to allow homeowners to express their concerns within their local community.[247]

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.[248] 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.[249][247]

Political impactEdit

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 signed in 2015; 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.[250][251]

Archaeological discoveriesEdit

 
Excavation work at St James's Church burial ground in 2018

Between 2018 and early 2022, HS2 examined more than 100 archaeological sites along the railway route.[252]

Early discoveries during construction were two Victorian era glass jar time capsules found during the demolition of the derelict National Temperance Hospital in Camden, dating from 1879 and 1884. The capsules contained newspapers, the hospital's rules, pro-temperance movement material, and official records.[253][254]

The "Hillingdon Hoard" of more than 300 late Iron Age potins was discovered in by archaeologists working on the railway project in Hillingdon, West London.[255] Archaeologists working on the railway had previously discovered hunter-gatherer flint tools from a much earlier (early Mesolithic) site in the eastern Colne Valley within the London Borough of Hillingdon, evidence of what may be the earliest settlers of what is now London.[256]

Before construction could begin on the new Euston station, archaeologists had to remove roughly 40,000 skeletons from the former burial ground of St James's Church which was in use between 1790 and 1853 and lies on the site of the new station.[257] Many of the skeletons were identifiable by surviving lead coffin plates, including the long lost remains of explorer Captain Matthew Flinders,[258] who is to be re-buried in his home town of Donington, Lincolnshire. The rest of the remains are to reburied at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey.[259] There were also excavations to remove roughly 6,500 skeletons from a burial ground on the site of the new Curzon Street station in Birmingham. Other notable finds in the burials were grave goods such as coins, plates, toys and necklaces[260] as well as evidence of body snatching. Excavations in Birmingham also uncovered the world's oldest railway roundhouse.[261]

In July 2020, archaeological teams announced a number of discoveries near Wendover, Buckinghamshire. The skeleton of an Iron Age man was discovered face down in a ditch with his hands bound together under his pelvis, suggesting that he may be a victim of a murder or execution. Archaeologists also discovered the remains of a Roman person buried in a lead coffin and stated that he may have been someone of high status due to the expensive method of burial. One of the most significant finds was that of a large circular monument of wooden posts 65 metres in diameter with features aligned with the winter solstice, similar to that of Stonehenge in Wiltshire. A golden Stater from the 1st century BC was also discovered with archaeologists stating that it was almost certainly minted in Britain.[262][263]

In Coleshill, Warwickshire, the remains of a large manor and ornamental gardens built by Robert Digby in the 16th century were excavated.[264]

In September 2021, archaeologists from LP-Archaeology led by Rachel Wood, have announced the discovery of remains of old St Mary's Church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, while working on the route of the HS2 railway. The Norman parish church structure, which dates back to 1080, fell into ruin after 1866, when a new church was built elsewhere in the area.[265][266] Discovered in the ruins of the Norman church were medieval markings in the form of drilled holes on two stones; these are variously interpreted as ritual protective marks, or as an early sundial.[266] Researchers' discovery of flint walls forming a square structure, enclosed by a circular borderline, indicate that the Norman church as built on an earlier Anglo-Saxon church. As part of excavations, approximately 3,000 bodies were moved to a new burial site. Evidence of a settlement from the Roman period was also discovered nearby.[267][268][265]

In early 2021, a significant site called "Blackgrounds" (for its rich dark soil) was discovered on what was previously pastureland near the village of Chipping Warden in South Northamptonshire, close to River Cherwell.[252][269] While the existence of an archaeological site in the region had been previously known, the excavations showed an unexpectedly significant site.[269] A team of 80 with the MOLA Headland Infrastructure archaeological consortium, which is working with HS2 Ltd, excavated the site which consisted of a small Iron Age village that became a Roman town.[252] The population grew, with about 30 roundhouses from the Iron Age into a significant Roman settlement with a population in the hundreds.[269] Discoveries included a particularly large Roman road; more than 300 Roman coins; and jewelry, glass vessels, and decorative pottery (including Samian pottery imported from Gaul), as well as signs of cosmetic use. Roman-era workshops and kilns were discovered, along with at least four wells.[252][269] A pair of shackles was also unearthed.[269] Taken together, the evidence was indicative of a prosperous trading site.[252][269]

Environmental mitigationEdit

A scheme has been announced to use the chalk excavated from the Chiltern tunnel to rewild a section of the Colne Valley Western Slopes. The 127 ha (310-acre) scheme will take its inspiration from the Knepp wilding and stretch along the line from the viaduct at Denham Country Park to the Chiltern tunnel's southern portal.[270]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The British Rail Class 373 trains used by Eurostar are an example of a high-speed train that is compatible with French/Belgian high-speed lines and British lines.
  2. ^ The nearest existing station to the proposed East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, has a fastest journey to London of 1 hour and 28 minutes.[167]
  3. ^ High Speed 2's estimates for intercity rail emissions assume a mix of electric and diesel traction on the intercity network, taking into account current electrification plans.
  1. ^ a b Trains between Birmingham and Scotland will call alternately at Oxenholme Lake District and Penrith. It has not yet been confirmed which station will be linked with which Scottish destination.
  2. ^ A reduction of 0:36 when compared to Long Eaton.

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Detailed mapsEdit

External linksEdit