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Hammond sets August deadline for High Speed 2 route review

Transport secretary Philip Hammond has challenged the High Speed 2 company to come up with a detailed business case for diverting the London to Birmingham route via Heathrow and making a direct link with High Speed 1.

Hammond has set an August deadline for the work to be completed. This would allow the work to feed in to Infrastructure UK’s work to establish priorities for infrastructure spending, due to be published alongside the comprehensive spending review in October.

The main addition to High Speed 2’s work is to develop options for connecting the line with Heathrow, building on the work presented in its March report.

It will be looking at both a line that goes directly through Heathrow, and also a spur or loop from the recommended route. For each option it will make a comparative business case and environmental assessment, assess the case for an interchange at Old Oak Common, and give an indication of the service patterns for the airport route.

It will also be assessing the options for linking HS1 with HS2. The lack of a direct connection with High Speed 1 in the company’s initial report was widely criticised.

On the wider network it is carrying out a high level assessment of the comparative business cases of a route extending from the West Midlands to Manchester and across the Pennines to Leeds, and also a network with separate legs from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds. But he has told the company to put on hold any detailed work on the leg to Leeds until the government has taken a “strategic decision” on the “shape and scope of the network to put forward to strategic consultation”.

Hammond has also asked High Speed 2 to prepare for public consultation on the London to West Midlands route early in the New Year.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Stop this high speed rail nonsense immediately. What is the point in spending multi billions (which we have not got) to shave a few minutes off a not very long rail journey. What we need in terms of infrastructure is maintenance and development of what alreday exists and cheaper rail fares (subsidised if necessary) to attract away from roads. We also desparately need adequate flood defences before we have really major catastrophies there. Then there is investment in future energy generation before the lights go out.......etc etc. Ultra high speed rail in UK relatively short distances is an ego trip and with advanced IT solutions travel can be greatly reduced in any case.
    Jim Barrack

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  • The existing rail network between London and Manchester has just been upgraded at a cost of massive disruption and mega-billions, and yet it is still pretty much running at full capacity - the writer above appears not to understand that you cannot squeeze unlimited capacity of exisiting infrastructure - there comes a time where you need to build new. Think of HS rail supplementing original railways, just as the motorway network supllemented A or B roads in the 60s & 70s.

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  • Luke O'Rafferty

    I'd agree with David here. The point isn't to make the journey much shorter but to increase capacity. If the current rail network is already running at capacity levels as Jim suggests, then reducing ticket prices would be a sure-fire way to crush the system.

    Move people from road and rail to HS, goods from road to rail and suddenly our road infrastructure is under a lot less strain and we can start saving money there. But in order to do this the HS network needs to be meaningful. If we decide to try to save a few pennies now but only end up with a track running from Heathrow to Birmingham we won't see the numbers of people required to make it a success.

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