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.