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Government gives green light to High Speed 2

Transport secretary Justine Greening has today given her backing to an amended High Speed 2 scheme that includes additional tunnelling through the Chilterns and other sensitive locations at an extra cost of £700M.

The entire Y network serving London to Birmingham and then Manchester and Leeds, with intermediate stations in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, is now expected to cost £32.7bn — the scheme would pay for itself with fare revenues of £34bn over 60 years but is also expected to generate benefits of up to £47bn, Greening said.

The first leg between London and the West Midlands, including a connection to Heathrow airport and High Speed 1 is expected to be ready by 2026 and the two Y legs further north to Manchester and Leeds could be open in 2032/2033.

Changes to the route

  1. A longer, continuous tunnel from Little Missenden to the M25 through the Chilterns
  2. A new 4.4 km bored tunnel along the Northolt Corridor to entirely avoid major works to the Chilterns Line and impacts on local communities in the Ruislip area
  3. A longer green tunnel past Chipping Warden and Aston Le Walls, and to curve the route to avoid a cluster of important heritage sites around Edgcote
  4. A longer green tunnel to significantly reduce impacts around Wendover, and an extension to the green tunnel at South Heath

Readers' comments (9)

  • We are still awaiting to see if HS2 will reach Scotland, which would make the scheme evern more cost effecitve.

    Hopefully this will be a project that gets the green light

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  • Would it be possible to show a the whole scheme with timings and costs on a map?

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  • I am unsure how a return of £34bn over 60 years is thought to be sufficient to repay a capital cost of £32.7bn.

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  • I am glad this scheme is going ahead, but the cost and timescales given in this article seem to be compare poorly to that of other countries.

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  • Lee Stentiford

    The key to this scheme will be maximising the wider benefits that HS2 can deliver. This surely provides the potential for other infrastructure investments and upgrades to be delivered in an efficient manner by utilising the rail corridor and providing new spines linking major cities in the UK. This will however need a change of mindset and with joined up thinking and collaborative working by various parties.

    The timescales look slow and surely there is an argument for accelerating these to start generating a return on investment at the earliest opportunity.

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  • Justine Greening is a trained accountant. So was Richard Beeching. Will she too ruin our railway system?
    M.J.Lambert (F)

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  • Bit harsh on Beeching there. He also promoted some very good ideas, especially in the railfreight space if I recall correctly (investment in 'merry go round' coal delivery system and increased use of containerised systems from manufactured goods).
    With the rapid adoption of the personal car at the time of Beechings report the railways were always going to struggle. It would be a very brave government then (or now) that would commit to a extensive competitive railway system, much as I would personally have loved to have seen that!

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  • I have no bias on the subject since I live south of the Thames, but I hope the development of the route gives serious consideration to (at the very least, passive provision for) a parkway station in a relatively non-sensitive area roughly halfway between London and Birmingham. This would effectively quell many concerns of the lack of benefit to those living nearby the middle tranche of the route that it effectively serves only the conurbations of London and Birmingham.

    Aylesbury has cropped up as a potential candidate and could allow good rail and bus connections. France gives us a precedent in the form of Gare de TGV Haute-Picardie, located some 15 km east of Amiens at a junction of local trunk routes, it lies halfway between Lille and Paris. Even a number of Kent towns are 'plugged in' to HS1, so it seems a shame that Bucks/Oxon/Northants/South-Warwickshire may miss out.

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  • How about diverting some much needed investment away from London for a change. London has benefitted disproportionately over the past 20 years in terms of new infrastructure for instance. Meanwhile Cornwall isnt even served by a motorway and the resulting decline is there for all to see. Politicians have apparently learned nothing. By putting all our eggs in one basket, i.e. 'the financial centre of Europe'. We are all suffering because of the incompetence and corruption in the city, and when that sector collapses we have a fast diminishing manufacturing sector to fall back on. Instead of ploughing ever more billions of tax-payers money into the black hole, which moste of us never benefit from, how about recognising that there is another world of hardworking taxpayers outside the 'Major Cities'

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