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Route for proposed HS2 rail link is revealed

28 January 2013

The High Speed 2 (HS2) proposed route and the locations of new stations in the West Midlands, north west, East Midlands and Yorkshire were unveiled this morning (January 28).

The publication today of the 211-mile northern phase two route of HS2, part of the government’s mid-term review, follows the confirmation a year ago of HS2’s 140-mile southern phase one route between London and Birmingham, which starts construction in four years and opens to passengers in 13 years. The routes announced today, running from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, will open six years after that.

Transport secretary Patrick  McLoughlin confirmed that the consultation on the proposed routes will be brought forward to start in 2013 rather than in 2014. He has also ordered the Department for Transport to look into whether the project can be fast-tracked so that the second phase of HS2 is completed ahead of the scheduled completion date of 2032.

The construction of the railway line, its maintenance and new station hubs driving surrounding commerce and regeneration are expected to create a total of 100,000 jobs. The Core Cities Group of England’s eight largest cities and other organisations believe the potential for jobs across the wider Midlands and the north is well above that figure.

New stations at Manchester, Manchester Airport, Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands will bring communities and businesses in and around those areas closer together with each other, Birmingham, London and beyond. Crewe will be served by a dedicated link alongside the high speed line. Local transport connections around all high speed stations, particularly at non-city centre locations, will be enhanced.

HS2 will be integrated with the existing national railway network, meaning cities and towns beyond the high speed track up to Scotland – including Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Preston, Warrington, Lancaster, Carlisle, Durham and Darlington - will also benefit from new connections and substantial time savings due to new trains able to use both high speed and conventional railway lines.

HS2 brings significant journey time savings. Manchester city centre will be 41 minutes from Birmingham city centre and 1 hour 8 minutes from London Euston, almost halving their durations today. Leeds will be 57 minutes away from Birmingham city centre, compared to 1 hour 58 today, and 1 hour 22 minutes away from London Euston, down from 2 hours 12 minutes today. HS2 stations at Leeds, Sheffield, East Midlands and Birmingham will each be separated from the next by journey times of under 20 minutes.

HS2 will connect to Heathrow Airport from the first day that phase one opens via a fast 11-minute Crossrail link at the new Old Oak Common station. Subject to the findings of the Airports Commission report on maintaining the UK’s international hub connectivity, HS2 could also be extended to serve Heathrow directly.

Industry comment
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) says that if the project is to be a success it must be developed alongside other transport requirements.

Professor Phil Blythe, Chair of the IET Transport Policy Panel, said: “If the government intends to proceed with the development of a new high speed rail line, it must consider connections to the wider transport network at the outset and plan these effectively to ensure seamless, congestion free, door to door journeys.

“As most of the proposed stations are on the outskirts of major conurbations this is crucial to help maximise the benefits of any new line and to ensure local authorities can plan local transport solutions effectively to avoid issues such as a huge increase in new road users trying to access stations.

“Developing HS2 in isolation to local transport requirements would further serve to undermine this project.”

Dr Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said it was welcome news for jobs, the economy as well as commuters. “This investment will help ease overcrowding on UK trains and help promote jobs and investment in Manchester, the East Midlands and Yorkshire," he said.

“It also opens up the possibility of more freight being transported via rail, as well helping to encourage commuters to ditch their cars in favour of train travel – both of which will help ease congestion on British roads. The lower carbon credentials of moving people and freight by railway is also an important factor as we move towards our legally binding climate change act targets in 2020 and beyond. But Government has to make sure that the development of HS2 is also an investment into UK jobs and skills. The UK must seize the opportunity presented by HS2 to invest in and develop future engineering talent.”

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “Extending HS2 to the North is the project’s big prize. It will boost the economic potential of some of our biggest cities, driving growth and creating jobs across the country. This is the same bold, long-term thinking that helped the Victorians build our original network.

“HS2 cannot be built in isolation so we need sustained, additional capital investment in existing road and rail networks to meet increased demand. Ministers must work hard to secure real consensus on the route, to avoid the project being hit by years of delays.”

Steve Radley, Policy Director of the Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF), said: “Having made a commitment to both stages of High Speed Two by extending it to the North, the government must now demonstrate that it has a credible plan to deliver this on time.

"This would send an important signal to business about Britain as a place to invest and is not only a major strategic investment in the UK’s infrastructure but, a major commitment of taxpayers’ money and test of the coalition’s industrial policy.

"The government must therefore ensure that as many as possible of the benefits associated with HS2 are realised by businesses based in Britain."

The preferred line of route and proposed station locations are detailed in a Command Paper.

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