High Speed 2
High Speed 2 (HS2) is a planned high-speed railway network in the United Kingdom, with its first phase between London and Birmingham currently under construction. The railway will be the country's second high-speed line, the first being High Speed 1 (HS1) which connects London to the Channel Tunnel. With a "Y"-shaped network of track and a design speed of 400 km/h (250 mph), the new railway will link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
|High Speed 2|
|Number of tracks||Double track|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Loading gauge||UIC GC|
|Electrification||25 kV AC overhead|
|Operating speed||360 km/h (225 mph) maximum, but 330 km/h (205 mph) routinely.|
High Speed 2 will provide upgrades to the terminal stations of London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds, whereas Birmingham will be served by a new terminus known as Birmingham Curzon Street. Phase 1 will create a new high-speed line between London and Birmingham. Phase 2 will create two branches north from Birmingham on either side of the Pennines. Once completed, sixteen trains per hour are planned to use the line either wholly or in part.
The project has been subject to both support and opposition: supporters of the project claim that HS2 will provide increased capacity and reliability to combat rising passenger numbers while driving further modal shift to rail; opponents of the project claim that the project is neither environmentally nor financially sustainable. In response to criticism of the project, in 2019 the government ordered a review of the project chaired by the project's former chairman, Douglas Oakervee; this recommended that the entire project proceed as planned.
The 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 between £80.7 billion and £88.7 billion in 2019 prices. After a judicial review on environmental grounds failed, construction on the line began in 2020. Tunnelling for the first phase began in 2021, and is expected to take around three and a half years.
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).
Following a review by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition, a route was opened to public consultation in December 2010, 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, with alterations designed to minimise the visual, noise, and other environmental impacts of the line.
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. 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. 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. Phase 2a received royal assent in February 2021.
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 large number of express services, allowing additional local train services to run and enabling the network to handle increasing passenger numbers. 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. The DfT has forecast that improved connectivity will have a positive economic impact, and that favourable journey times and ample capacity will generate modal shift from air and road to rail.
On 21 August 2019, the Department for Transport (DfT) ordered an independent review of the project, chaired by the British civil engineer Douglas Oakervee. Work on preparations for the first phase proceeded while the review was undertaken. The review was completed in November 2019, but was delayed by purdah rules relating to the general election which took place in the following month. Lord Berkeley, the deputy chair of the review, distanced himself from the review's conclusions and issued a dissenting report in January 2020. The Oakervee Review was published by the Department for Transport on 11 February 2020, alongside a statement from the Prime Minister confirming that HS2 would go ahead in full, with reservations. 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 the following recommendations:
- The DfT should revise the funding envelope and business case in response to the cost estimates in the report;
- Costs should be controlled and the procurement and contracting strategy—which was partially responsible for cost estimates increasing—be examined;
- The DfT should model for a reduced service frequency of fourteen trains per hour, with passive provision for two more;
- Phase 2a should be constructed alongside Phase 1, and the connection to the West Coast Main Line (WCML) near Handsacre—which represented the original boundary between Phase 1 and 2—be removed; the government later committed to providing the Handsacre connection regardless.
- Improvements to classic services in the Midlands and Northern England should be delivered in advance of Phase 2b's opening, and the Phase 2b hybrid bill be delayed for several months, pending a review into advanced connectivity in those areas;
- Old Oak Common should serve as a temporary terminus for the line if the high-speed terminus at Euston is not complete before opening.
After recommending the project 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. On 15 April 2020, formal approval was given to construction companies to start work on the project.
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". Packham was subsequently given leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal, with Lord Justice Lewison ruling that there was "considerable public interest". On 31 July 2020, Packham lost his case in the Court of Appeal.
Phase 1: London to Birmingham
Phase 1 will create a new high-speed line between London and Birmingham by approximately 2029. A high-speed link will also be provided to the existing WCML just north of Lichfield in Staffordshire, which will provide services to the North West of England and Scotland in advance of later phases.
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 and the journey will take 49 minutes.
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. 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 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. 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. North of a bored tunnel under Long Itchington Wood, the route will pass through rural areas between Kenilworth and Coventry and cross 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 triangular junction west of Coleshill will link the HS2 Birmingham city centre spur with the line continuing north, from which Phase 2a and 2b will be developed. The northern limit for Phase 1 will be a connection onto the WCML near Lichfield. This part of the line would be operative with compatible high-speed trains moving onto the conventional track WCML while the western leg of Phase 2 is being built. The city centre spur will be routed along the Water Orton rail corridor, the Birmingham to Derby line through Castle Bromwich and in a tunnel past Bromford.
In November 2015, the then Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that the HS2 line would be extended to Crewe by 2027, reducing journey times from London to Crewe by 35 minutes. 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.
Phase 2: Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds
Phase 2 will create two branch lines from Birmingham running north either side of the Pennines creating a "Y" network. Phase 2 is split into two phases, 2a and 2b. Phase 2a is the section from Lichfield to Crewe on the western section. Phase 2b is the remainder of Phase 2.
The western section of the "Y" route extends north from Lichfield connecting to the northbound conventional WCML at Bamfurlong south of Wigan taking services to Scotland, with a branch to the existing Manchester Piccadilly station. A branch on HS2 at High Legh in Cheshire will take trains on conventional track twenty-five miles (40 km) into Liverpool.
The eastern section of the "Y" branches at Coleshill to the east of Birmingham and routes north to just before York, where it joins the Cross Country Route, which in turn connects onto the northbound conventional East Coast Main Line (ECML) projecting services to the North East of England and Scotland.
West Midlands to Crewe (Phase 2a, western section)
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, and received Royal Assent on 11 February 2021.
Crewe Hub (Phase 2a, western section)
- 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 WCML immediately to the south and north of the station, to allow HS2 trains to enter the station.
Crewe to Bamfurlong and Manchester (Phase 2b, western section)
HS2 track continues north from Crewe with its endpoint at Bamfurlong south of Wigan where it branches into the WCML. As the line passes through Cheshire at Millington, it will branch to Manchester using a triangular junction. At this junction, passive provision for a link to Liverpool will be constructed, which will enable the future construction of Northern Powerhouse Rail to link to the HS2 network. This will be provided for in the HS2 Phase 2b Hybrid Bill. The Manchester branch then veers east in a circuitous route around Tatton running past Manchester airport through a station at the 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.
West Midlands to ECML and Leeds (Phase 2b, eastern section)
East of Birmingham the Phase 1 line branches at Coleshill progressing northeast roughly parallel to the M42 motorway, progressing north between Derby and Nottingham. The line ends by joining the Cross Country Route south of Ulleskelf, which itself almost immediately joins the northbound ECML just south of York, projecting services to the northeast of England and Scotland on a mixture of HS2 and conventional tracks.
The line from Birmingham northeast bound incorporates the proposed East Midlands Hub located at Toton between Derby and Nottingham. The East Midlands Hub will serve Derby, Leicester and Nottingham. There will be a parallel spur to the northbound HS2 track using the conventional track Midland Main Line from a branch at Clay Cross branching back onto HS2 track east of Grimethorpe. Chesterfield and Sheffield will be served by HS2 conventional trains being located on this spur. The HS2 track will branch near Woodlesford and directly into a Leeds HS2 terminus constructed on a viaduct over the River Aire and sharing a common concourse with the existing station.
The initial plan was for the line to serve Sheffield directly via a new raised station adjacent to Tinsley Viaduct, near to Meadowhall Interchange east of Sheffield. This met with opposition from Sheffield Council, who lobbied for the line to be routed through Sheffield city centre. As a result, Sheffield will be accessed via a spur from HS2 branching off at Clay Cross and running through Chesterfield, using the existing conventional track on Midland Main Line. This spur means Chesterfield gains a HS2 classic compatible service, which was not in the initial plan.
Following the conclusion of the Oakervee Review in early 2020, the government decided to proceed with legislation for the Western Leg of Phase 2b as a priority. Therefore, HS2 Ltd intend to submit a Hybrid Bill before parliament for the Western Leg in early 2022, or sooner if possible.
The government also plans to present an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands by the end of 2020, informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission, which will consider how to better deliver the Eastern Leg of Phase 2b along with Northern Powerhouse Rail, East Midlands Hub and other rail programmes. Therefore, work on the Eastern Leg of Phase 2b has been stopped.
Possible future phases
There are no DfT proposals to extend the new 186 mph (300 km/h) high-speed lines north of Leeds to Newcastle, west of Manchester to Liverpool, or to Scotland via the west or east coast routes. High-speed trains will be capable of accessing some destinations using the existing slower speed high-speed tracks, using a mixture of higher speed of over 186 mph (300 km/h) and lower speed 125 mph (200 km/h) classic tracks.
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.
In February 2016, Liverpool City Council offered £2 billion towards funding a direct HS2 line into the city centre. In November 2018, it was reported that Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, were looking at extending HS2 to Liverpool.
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. The existing Lime Street station is considered too small, with expansion difficult and expensive. Transport for the North's strategic plan recognised the need for a new station to accommodate HS2 and NPR trains.
Rotheram stated in May 2019 that the government preferred to connect Liverpool to HS2 via an existing freight line rather than build dedicated direct high-speed track into the city. In June 2019, HS2 Ltd published propsals to revise plans to access Liverpool via High Legh in Cheshire, with passive provision for two junctions to allow Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) services to use portions of HS2 track to access Warrington and Manchester, and for HS2 services to use NPR infrastructure to access central Liverpool.
Newcastle and Scotland
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.
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".
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. The plan was cancelled in 2016. 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.
Connection to other lines
Existing main lines
A key feature of the HS2 proposals is that the new high-speed track will mix with existing conventional track to form the complete network. Purpose-built conventional trains will be capable of operating on the new spine of high-speed track at full line speeds, then seamlessly run onto conventional tracks at speeds of 200 km/h (125 mph) or below. This will enable trains to reach destinations served only by slower high-speed tracks, such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, using a mixture of conventional and high-speed track. HS2 trains are non-tilting; however, non-tilting speed limits are being increased from 110 mph to 125 mph in some places and modifications to the alignment of the WCML are planned, which will make tilting trains no longer necessary.
- east of Lichfield Trent Valley, 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) northwest of Lichfield
- north of Crewe
- south of Crewe
- 3 miles south of Wigan North Western station
- at Ulleskelf, 8 km (5 mi) southeast of York, joining the Cross Country Route, which meets the East Coast Main Line 3 km (2 mi) further north near Colton
- Midland Main Line
- at High Legh in Cheshire.
The route from London to the West Midlands will be the first stage of a line to Scotland, 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. 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.
High Speed 1
The Department for Transport initially outlined plans to build a two-kilometre-long (1.2 mi) link between HS2 and the existing High Speed 1 (HS1) line that connects London to the Channel Tunnel, creating one high-speed network. This connection would have realised the aims of the Regional Eurostar scheme that was first proposed in the 1980s. Several schemes were considered, and the route finally put forward was a tunnel between Old Oak Common and Chalk Farm, linked to existing conventional lines along the North London Line which would connect to HS1 north of St Pancras.
Camden London Borough Council raised concerns about the impact on housing, Camden Market and other local businesses from construction work and bridge widening. Alternative schemes were considered, including boring a tunnel under Camden. The HS1–HS2 link was removed from the parliamentary bill at the second reading stage in order to save £700 million from the budget.
As HS1 and HS2 will not be integrated, HS2 Ltd proposed to enhance links between HS1's terminus at St Pancras and HS2's terminus at Euston which are separated by the British Library on Euston Road; at their closest points, the two high-speed lines will be only 640 m (0.4 mi) apart. HS2's proposed options include improvements to pedestrian links between the two stations and the construction of an automated people mover. The two termini will also be served by the same station—Euston St Pancras—on Crossrail 2, which could provide a covered connection.
High Speed North
High Speed North, sometimes called Northern Powerhouse Rail or High Speed 3 (HS3), is a high speed railway across the North of England that was proposed in 2015 by Transport for the North (TfN). The east–west trans-Pennine line would provide a high speed link between northern cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull, with connections to HS2. In March 2016, the National Infrastructure Commission's report, "High Speed North", recommended collaboration between TfN and HS2 Ltd on the design of the northern parts of HS2. Some redesign of HS2 would be needed to link into HS3. The proposal was given approval in the March 2016 budget.
In December 2016, Sir David Higgins, then head of HS2, gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee about collaboration between HS2 and HS3, and outlined potential schemes being considered for a high-speed connection between Liverpool and Manchester; these include a link via Golborne, or a southern route via Manchester Airport into Piccadilly station.
In May 2019, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee recommended treating NPR and HS2 Phase 2b as one project. In June 2019, HS2 Ltd published a document stating that NPR will branch into HS2 at High Legh in Cheshire. This was taken further, with steps towards NPR integration being announced in HS2 Ltd's Phase 2b design refinement consultation. The two schemes which were developed separately will lead to the development of NPR in close co-ordination with HS2.
London and Birmingham
HS2's southern terminus is 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 classic rail station, and improved connections to Euston Square tube station, which serves the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines will be provided. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Birmingham Interchange will be a through station situated in rural 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 it to the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham Airport, and the existing Birmingham International railway station. 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.
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.
Birmingham city centre
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. 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.
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). One of Birmingham's oldest pubs, the Fox and Grapes, was demolished to make way for the new developments in September 2018. The West Midlands Metro will be extended to serve the station.
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. 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.
Clearing the site for construction commenced in December 2018. 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.
Birmingham to Manchester (Phases 2a and 2b)
Proposals for the station locations were announced on 28 January 2013.
Birmingham to Crewe (Phase 2a)
HS2 will pass through Staffordshire and Cheshire. The line will run in a tunnel under the Crewe junction by-passing the station. The HS2 line will be linked to the WCML via a grade-separated junction just south of Crewe, enabling "classic compatible" trains exiting the high-speed line to call at the existing Crewe station. In 2014, the chairman of HS2 advocated a dedicated hub station in Crewe. In November 2015 it was announced that the Crewe hub completion would be brought forward to 2027. 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 WCML.
Manchester Airport (Phase 2b)
An HS2 station provisionally named Manchester Interchange is planned to the south of the city of Manchester, serving Manchester Airport. It was recommended in 2013 by local authorities during the consultation stage. Construction will be part-funded by private investment from the Manchester Airports Group.
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.
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.
Doubts over Phases 2a and 2b
In November 2020, a civil servant called Phase 2b "a sacrificial lamb". Legislation for Phase 2 is to be split, rather than carried as one combined Act, which has cast doubt on its likelihood to be completed.
During a House of Lords debate in November 2020, the Government confirmed that Phases 2a and 2b would be separate legislation. In March 2021, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that Phase 2b would go ahead,
Manchester city centre (Phase 2b)
The route is proposed to continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin-bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick. The tunnel will be at an average depth of 33 m (108 ft) and trains will travel through it at 228 kilometres per hour (142 mph). The diameter of the tunnel is dependent on the train speed and length of the tunnel. It is envisaged both tunnels will be, as an "absolute minimum", 7.25 metres (23 ft 9 in) in diameter to accommodate the high-speed trains.
Up to 15 sites were put forward, including Sportcity, Pomona Island, expanding Deansgate railway station and re-configuring the Grade-II listed Manchester Central into a station. Three final sites made the list: Manchester Piccadilly station, Salford Central station and a newly built station at Salford Middlewood Locks. Three approaches were considered, one via the M62, one via the River Mersey and the other through south Manchester. Both Manchester and Salford city councils recommended routing High Speed 2 to Manchester Piccadilly, although the station approach faces southeast away from the incoming HS2 line, to maximise economic potential and connectivity rather than building a new station at a greater cost.
HS2 will terminate at an upgraded Manchester Piccadilly station. At least four new 400-metre-long (1,300 ft) platforms will be built to accommodate the new high-speed trains in addition to the two platforms which are currently planned as part of the Northern Hub proposal. It is envisaged Platform 1 under the existing listed train shed will also be converted to a fifth HS2 platform. The HS2 concourse will be connected to the existing concourse at Piccadilly. HS2 will reduce the average journey time from central Manchester to central London from 2 hours 8 minutes to 1 hour 8 minutes.
Birmingham to Leeds (Phase 2b)
East Midlands Hub
HS2 is proposed to serve a new station named the East Midlands Hub located at Toton sidings in Long Eaton. The station will be an out of town parkway station, serving the cities of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. The Derbyshire and Nottingham Chamber of Commerce supports high-speed rail serving the East Midlands, however, was concerned that a parkway station instead of centrally located stations in each of the three cities would result in no overall net benefit in journey times.
Derby City Council and Nottingham City Council have proposed an extension to the Nottingham Express Transit tram system, which currently terminates at Toton Lane, to serve the HS2 station and then branch to provide tram services to Derby and East Midlands Airport. Toton Lane currently serves as a Park and Ride station for the nearby M1 motorway.
HS2 is proposed to pass Sheffield to the east of the city. Initially, there were plans for a HS2 station on the main line at Meadowhall in the east of the city; the area has an indoor shopping centre, a Park & Ride service for the M1 motorway, and the Meadowhall Interchange station which is served by local rail and Sheffield Supertram services. After petitioning by Sheffield City Council—who claimed that a station in the city centre would have greater economic benefits and cause less congestion than the Meadowhall site—the route to the city was changed in July 2016, with high-speed trains serving the centre of the city using classic compatible trains. High-speed trains would branch off HS2 track onto the Midland main line south of Sheffield at Clay Cross, serve Chesterfield station and continue north into Sheffield station. High-speed trains can leave Sheffield heading north and then branch back onto HS2 track north of the city at Clayton.
As a replacement for the Meadowhall station, Sir David Higgins—then the CEO of HS2 Ltd—announced his support for a "South Yorkshire Parkway" station on the main line. In January 2017, the government published eight possible sites across South Yorkshire and the City of Wakefield for the parkway station; by December 2017, three possible sites were still being assessed, with Higgins requesting that local government leaders reach a consensus on the final site.
Plans see HS2 continue north towards York, with a spur serving Leeds. The original proposals recommended that HS2 would terminate at a new station—Leeds New Lane—situated approximately 400 m south of the existing Leeds station; the two stations would have been connected by a moving walkway. In 2015, the New Lane site was removed from plans in favour of a site on a viaduct over the River Aire, which would adjoin the current station and share a common concourse over Neville Street.
The main stages of construction officially began on 4 September 2020, 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.
Euston station in London
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. 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.
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.
In July 2020, work was completed on a 17 m high headwall at the southern portal of the twin-bore tunnel. The 10-mile (16 km) Chiltern tunnels will take three years to dig using two 2,000 tonne boring machines.
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. Tunnelling began in May 2021, with Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Florence expected to take three and a half years to complete tunnelling. The second TBM, named Cecilia, launched in July 2021. The TBMs will move at a speed of up to 15 metres per day.
Opposition to construction
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 claimed that fresh water 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. 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.
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. HS2 and Hillingdon council both moved to get separate injunctions allowing them to remove the squatters. Another camp was set up in March 2020 at Jones Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire, aiming to preserve a wood which inspired Roald Dahl to write Fantastic Mr Fox. Activists, including Swampy, were evicted from treehouses in October 2020.
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". In June 2021, HS2 stated that protests had so far cost the company £75 million.
HS2 will provide up to 18 trains an hour by 2033 to and from London. The service pattern is not yet finalised; the 2020 business case contains a suggested service pattern. Some services will operate as two connected units and will split to serve multiple northern destinations.
Proposed service pattern
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|
|London Euston – Birmingham Curzon Street||3||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange||400 m|
|London to the North West and Scotland|
|London Euston – Manchester Piccadilly||3||Old Oak Common, Wilmslow (1tph), Stockport||200 m|
|London Euston – Macclesfield||1||Old Oak Common, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent |
Will only run if phase 2a is open.
|London Euston – Liverpool Lime Street||1||Old Oak Common, Stafford, Runcorn|
Will call at Crewe in lieu of Stafford if phase 2a is open.
|1||Old Oak Common, Crewe, Runcorn |
Will run combined with the Lancaster train (see below) between London and Crewe if phase 2a is open.
|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.
|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|
|London Euston – Birmingham Curzon Street||3||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (2tph)||400 m|
|London to the North West and Scotland|
|London Euston – Manchester Piccadilly||3||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Manchester Interchange||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.
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.
|London to Yorkshire and the North East|
|London Euston – Leeds||2||Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), East Midlands Hub||400 m|
|London Euston – Leeds and Sheffield||1||Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub...|
The two portions will divide/attach at East Midlands Hub.
|London Euston – York and Sheffield||1||Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub...|
The two portions will divide/attach at East Midlands Hub.
|London Euston – Newcastle||2||Old Oak Common, York, Darlington (1tph)||200 m|
|Birmingham to the North West and Scotland|
|Birmingham Curzon Street – Manchester Piccadilly||2||Manchester Interchange||200 m|
|Birmingham Curzon Street – Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central||1||Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme Lake District (1tp2h), Penrith (1tp2h), Carlisle...|
1tp2h will continue to/from Edinburgh Waverley, calling at Haymarket.
1tp2h will continue to/from Glasgow Central, calling at Lockerbie and Motherwell.
|Birmingham to Yorkshire and the North East|
|Birmingham Curzon Street – Leeds||2||East Midlands Hub||200 m|
|Birmingham Curzon Street – Newcastle||1||East Midlands Hub, York, Darlington, Durham||200 m|
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. The new franchise will run for the first five years of HS2's operation.
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. 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."
|Type||Current capacity||Capacity post‑HS2|
HS2 will carry up to 26,000 people per hour, with anticipated annual passenger numbers of 85 million. 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 WCML, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line allowing for more slower freight trains and local, regional and commuter services. 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".
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. HS2 Ltd's report assumed a GC structure gauge for passenger capacity estimations, with a maximum design speed of 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph). Initially, trains would run at a maximum speed of 360 kilometres per hour (225 mph).
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 the European standard of 760 millimetres (2 ft 6 in); the trains will instead have a floor height of 1,115 millimetres (3 ft 7.9 in). This means the new HS2 stations will have the conventional British platform height of 915mm, as do domestic platforms for Class 395 trains on High Speed 1.
The first batch of rolling stock for HS2 is specified in technical specifications of the first tender. Bidding for the contract to design, build and maintain the trains was opened in 2017 and was expected to be awarded in 2019. As of September 2020, it is expected to be awarded in Q1 2021. The first batch includes at least 54 trainsets with a maximum speed of at least 360 km/h (225 mph) and capability to operate on both HS2 and existing infrastructure. The following suppliers are shortlisted in tender:
- Alstom Transport
- Bombardier Transportation (acquired by Alstom Transport on 29 January 2021) and Hitachi Rail Europe consortium
- Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles
- Patentes Talgo
- Siemens Mobility
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.
- 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 WCML, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland, although these non-tilting trains would run slower than existing 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.
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 together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train. 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."
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.
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.
The estimated cost of power for running HS2 trains on the high-speed network is estimated to be £3.90/km for 200 m trains and £5.00/km for 260m trains. On the conventional network, the power costs are £2.00/km and £2.60/km respectively.
A rolling stock depot will be built in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, covering all of Phase 1 and Phase 2a. 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. An additional depot in Annandale, north of Gretna Green and south of Kirkpatrick Fleming was announced in 2020.
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. 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.
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.
To HS2 stations
|London to/from||Fastest journey time before HS2
|Estimated time after Phase 1
time after Phase 2
|Estimated Phase 1 reduction||Estimated Phase 2 reduction|
|Manchester||2:07||1:40||Phase 2a: 1:30||Phase 2b: 1:11||0:27||0:54|
|East Midlands Hub||none||0:52||none||none|
To other stations
|London to/from||Fastest journey time before HS2
|Fastest journey time after HS2 Phase 2
|Reduction after HS2 Phase 2|
|Birmingham to/from||Fastest journey time before HS2
|Fastest journey time after HS2 Phase 2
|Reduction after HS2 Phase 2|
|East Midlands Hub||N/A||0:20||N/A|
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, and the entire Y-shaped 540-kilometre (335 mi) network between £30.9 and £36 billion, not including the Manchester Airport station which would be locally funded. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Cost increases have led to reductions in the planned track; for instance, the link between HS1 and HS2 was later dropped on cost grounds. 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. 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. By 2019, Oakervee estimated that the projected cost, in 2019 prices, had increased from £80.7 billion to £88.7 billion—the budget envelope in 2019 prices is £62.4 billion—and the benefit–cost ratio had dropped to between 1.3 and 1.5. 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. As of 2020, the budget envelope set out by the DfT is £98 billion. 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.
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. HS2 received funding from the European Union's Connecting Europe Facility.
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". They noted that railway passenger numbers had been growing significantly in recent years—doubling from 1995 to 2015—and that the Rugby – Euston section was expected to have insufficient capacity sometime around 2025. This is despite the WCML 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.
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. It says the new line "would improve rail services from London to cities in the North of England and Scotland, and that the chosen route to the west of London will improve passenger transport links to Heathrow Airport". Additionally, if the new line were connected to the Great Western Main Line and Crossrail, it would provide links with East and West London and the Thames Valley.
In launching the project, the DfT announced that HS2 between London and the West Midlands would follow a different alignment from the WCML, rejecting the option of further upgrading or building new tracks alongside the WCML as being too costly and disruptive, and because the Victorian-era WCML alignment was not suitable for very high speeds. 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.
HS2 is officially supported by the Labour Party, Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. 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.
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. 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.
The Green Party would scrap HS2 and spend the money saved on local transport links. The Brexit Party and the UK Independence Party also oppose the scheme. 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. Before he became Prime Minister, Boris Johnson was personally against HS2. Other former and current Conservative MPs against HS2 include Cheryl Gillan and Liam Fox.
Stop HS2 was set up in 2010 to co-ordinate local opposition and campaign on the national level against HS2. In June 2020, it organised a "Rebel Trail" with Extinction Rebellion, which was a protest march of 125 miles from Birmingham to London, stopping at camps in Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire and London. Groups such as the Wildlife Trusts and the National Trust oppose the project based on concerns about destruction of local biodiversity.
Environmental and community impact
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. The government announced in January 2011 that two million trees would be planted along sections of the route to mitigate the visual impact. The route was changed so as to tunnel underneath the southern end of the Chilterns, with the line emerging northwest of Amersham. 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 through ancient woodland at a nature reserve at Park Hall near Birmingham.
Property demolition, land take and compensation
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. 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. These included a 17th century farm in Uxbridge once visited by Queen Elizabeth I in 1602 and the Eagle and Tun pub, which was the set for the UB40 music video for Red Red Wine. In Birmingham, the Curzon Gate student residence and The Fox and Grapes, a derelict pub, were demolished; Birmingham City University requested £30 million in compensation after the plans were announced. 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.
Ancient woodland impact
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. 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. 52,000 such sites exist. According to the Trust, 56 hectares (0.6 km2) are threatened with total loss from the construction of Phases 1 and 2. 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. 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. HS2 Ltd disputes the Trust's figure, saying it includes ancient woodlands several kilometres from the route and claiming only 43 ancient woodlands are directly impacted, of which over 80% will remain intact.
Carbon dioxide emissions
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. 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.
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. 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); 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.
The High Speed Rail Command Paper published in March 2010 stated that the project was likely to be roughly carbon neutral. The House of Commons Transport Select Committee report in November 2011 (paragraph 77) concluded that the government's claim 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.
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, 67 grams for private car transport, and 170 grams for domestic aviation.
The government claims 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.
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. The government has announced that trees planted to create a visual barrier will reduce noise pollution.
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. It confirmed that the consultations would be conducted in line with the terms of the Aarhus Convention. 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. 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.
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. Consultations with those affected were set up over late 2012 and January 2013, to allow homeowners to express their concerns within their local community.
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. 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.
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.
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. Many of the skeletons were identifiable by surviving lead coffin plates, including the long lost remains of explorer Captain Matthew Flinders, 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. 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 as well as evidence of body snatching. Excavations in Birmingham also uncovered the world's oldest railway roundhouse.
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. Medieval graffiti which warded off evil spirits were discovered at the remains of a 12th-century church just a few miles away in Stoke Mandeville.
In Coleshill, the remains of a large manor and gardens built by Robert Digby in the 16th century were excavated.
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. The slopes will be seeded with 70 grass and flower species and planted with 32 species of native trees and shrubs.
- Rail transport in Great Britain
- High Speed 1
- Channel Tunnel
- Department for Transport
- West Coast Main Line
- High-speed rail
- High-speed rail in Europe
- High-speed rail in the United Kingdom
- UK Ultraspeed
- Northern Powerhouse Rail
- High Speed UK
- In British usage, a parkway station is one with car parking, which may be at a distance from the area it serves
- 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.
- The nearest existing station to the proposed East Midlands Hub, Long Eaton, has a fastest journey to London of 1 hour and 28 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- A reduction of 0:36 when compared to Long Eaton.
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original rationale for HS2 – still holds: there is a need for greater capacity (both more trains on tracks and more seats on trains and reliability on the GB rail network)
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