Key messages from the high-speed rail consultation
Today the Government gave the green light to the first phase of HS2 from London to Birmingham.
In response to the oral statement from Justine Greening MP made in the House of Commons at 3:30pm, Lucy James, spokesperson from the Campaign for High Speed Rail, said:
“This is a great announcement for Britain. HS2 will deliver more seats, more trains, more jobs and more growth.
“The publication of the consultation brings certainty to an infrastructure investment of massive national importance.
“During the debate, issues with the route were clearly identified. We welcome that the government has listened during the consultation and is going to make a package of alterations to the proposed route, specifically to deliver extra tunnelling at Northolt and Wendover.
“We also welcome the work the engineering teams have done to try and bring down the cost of these options.
“Today’s announcement shows that the principle of high-speed rail has been clearly established. It is time to put the arguments behind us so we can focus on how to make the most out of this exciting infrastructure investment.”
The campaign has read the Government’s consultation document and highlighted the key messages and developments. These can be found below:
1. HS2 will deliver benefits all over the country: A Y-shaped national network with links onto the East Coast and West Coast main lines will enable high speed services to link London, Birmingham, Manchester, the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds directly. Many of the trains running on HS2 will also be compatible with the existing railway and therefore able to run off the HS2 lines to serve a range of other towns and cities including Liverpool, Preston, York, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. They will run at high speed on HS2 and at conventional speeds on the existing network.
Nine out of the UK’s ten largest conurbations will be connected in this way, providing significant enhancements to inter-city rail capacity and connectivity between the vast majority of the country’s major urban economies.
2. HS2 cuts journey times between our major cities To ensure that travellers will be able to benefit from the most up-to-date train technology over the long-term, the line will be built to accommodate speeds of up to 250mph, similar to lines being designed elsewhere in Europe, although the expected maximum line speed at opening will be 225mph.
This will see journey times from London to Birmingham reduced to just 45 minutes – less time than it takes to make a journey across London from Hackney to Wimbledon.
Journey times to Leeds and Manchester will also fall significantly to around 88 and 68 minutes, respectively.
3. HS2 makes rail travel more attractive for passengers By enhancing inter-city rail capacity and connectivity HS2 could prompt significant modal shift from air and road to our railways. HS2 would encourage modal shift by making rail increasingly attractive for some journeys that would otherwise be made by plane or car.
For aviation this is particularly true for the London to Scotland market. HS2 is forecast to carry up to 4.5 million passengers every year who might otherwise have travelled by air, as well as seeing up to 9 million passengers transfer from the national road network.
4. Few responses argued for prioritising increased road or air capacity (over rail) between major urban centres. It is notable that relatively few responses to the consultation argued for prioritising increased road or air capacity (over rail) between our major urban centres to meet demand for inter-city travel. The Government concurs that inter-city rail travel as a means of serving these key routes offers valuable practical and sustainability benefits in comparison to road travel and domestic aviation.
In terms of road infrastructure, the Government does not consider that there is a case for major new motorways, and therefore our strategic road strategy focuses on schemes to address key pinch points and improving access to the strategic road network, especially to serve new development, and also the continuing roll-out of the managed motorways programme as a means of enhancing the capacity and performance of the motorway network.
5. Doing nothing damages smaller towns and cities Growing demand for rail travel presents new opportunities but also new challenges. As demand grows over the coming years and capacity becomes more stretched, train operators are increasingly likely to focus on serving the main rail markets of Britain’s major urban centres. The expense of new infrastructure, as well as the operating costs, to enable smaller towns and cities to retain current service standards will in many instances be unjustifiable.
As a result, smaller towns and cities are likely to see their rail services become less frequent and slower. This trade-off is already playing out on our busiest main lines, and, in particular, the recent timetable introduced following the West Coast Route Modernisation programme has seen a diminished service for a number of stations along the route.
By contrast, with the majority of long distance north-south journeys expected to transfer to HS2, there is potential to use the capacity released on the existing network for new and better services, catering for a wider variety of markets which would improve the connectivity to places that could otherwise see a diminishing rail service.
6. Major transport projects have been delivered on budget recently. Second, responses suggested that HS2 would be beset by cost overruns.
In fact, and in line with HM Treasury requirements, the costings prepared for HS2 include allowances of up to 64 per cent for cost overruns. HS1, the only current high speed line in Britain, was delivered on time and on budget. More recently, the £371 million Hindhead Tunnel on the A3 was opened in July 2011 on time and on budget, and the major construction programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is similarly on target.
However, the Government notes the concerns raised in consultation responses and is committed to ensuring the maximum value for taxpayer money. Therefore, we will continue to work with HS2 Ltd and Infrastructure UK and its range of private sector advisers to ensure that the costs of HS2 continue to be properly developed, managed and reviewed.
Para. 3. 51.
7. HS2 supports regeneration and growth. The Government recognises the complexity of these issues and notes the strongly contrasting attitudes adopted in consultation responses. In the light of these consultation responses, the Department for Transport has reviewed the evidence in respect of the impacts of transport infrastructure projects on economic growth.
This has confirmed that major transport investments can have a significant stimulus on economic growth at the local, regional and national levels, and, where they form part of an effective overall strategy, can support local regeneration.
Para. 3. 57.
8. HS2 will help to close the north south divide There is strong and widespread support from the Midlands and the North for HS2. Business and political leaders have identified the clear benefits of the project for their regions.
They are particularly keen to have more rapid access to the major markets of London and the South East but also to see improved connectivity within and between their regions. Whilst the Government recognises that a proportion of the benefits of HS2 would be felt in the South, this does not alter the importance of HS2 for the rest of the country. Research previously undertaken by the Northern Way suggests that, given the relative size of their respective economies, there is potential for the benefits to the Midlands and the North to have a much larger proportionate impact.
Evidence presented to the Government as part of the consultation also demonstrates the sizeable benefits from HS2 anticipated in the Midlands and the North.
Para. 3. 69.
9. HS2 has been adapted via the consultation to address concerns Changes to the line of the HS2 route following consultation mean that out of a total length of just under 140 miles, around 22.5 miles (not including the HS1 link) will be in tunnel or green tunnel.
This is an increase of more than 50 per cent from the route consulted on.
In addition, around 56.5 miles will be partially or totally hidden in cutting. Around 40 miles will be on viaduct or embankment – this is around 10 miles less than the consultation route. This means that around 79 miles (more than half of the route) will be mitigated by tunnel or cutting.
Para. 6. 15.
Following the consultation, the following improvements have been made to the route:
1. Saving the Roman Villa at Edgecote.
2. Saving the Civil War battlefield at Edgecote.
3. Saving Edgecote Manor.
4. The market town of Wendover (protected by the Wendover green tunnel).
5. The village of Twyford (moving the track and installing bund to reduce the noise).
6. Village of Greatworth in Northamptonshire (green tunnel).
7. The town of Kenilworth (cutting).
8. The village of Burton Green (green tunnel).
9. Village of Stoke Mandeville (lowered partly into a cutting).
10. The village of Stairton near the agricultural centre of Stoneleigh.
11. The village of Middleton in Warwickshire protected by a bund.
12. Protected village of Southam (double length of Long Itchington Wood tunnel).
1. The Department for Transport’s response to the consultation into HS2 can be read in full online here.
2. For further information or comment please call The Campaign for High Speed Rail on 07758 019 351. We have a range of spokespeople that we can put forward to interview upon request.