High Speed 2
High Speed 2 (HS2) is a high-speed railway network under construction 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.
Completion of the full project is still in doubt despite construction commencing on the first phase. The media reports a number of leaks of a government-backed review from the National Infrastructure Commission, suggesting the eastern leg should be permanently shelved in favour of upgrades to existing routes to the Midlands. The southern Phase 1, the London to Birmingham leg, received an amber/red rating by the government's Infrastructure and Projects Authority, who reported that: "successful delivery of the project is in doubt". They gave Phase 2b, the western Crewe to Manchester leg and eastern Birmingham to Leeds leg, a red 'unachievable' rating.