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Rail franchise announced for HS2 services

HS2 High Speed Rail

A new rail franchise combining existing InterCity West Coast services with the development and introduction of High Speed 2 (HS2) services has been announced by the government.

The new West Coast Partnership – which will run for the first three to five years of operation of HS2 – will be responsible for West Coast Mainline services from 2019 and for designing and running new high speed services from 2026.

“This is a real opportunity to ensure HS2 services complement and enhance existing ones,” said HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins.

“I have always been clear HS2 will not be a standalone railway but fully integrated with the wider network. It will provide a new backbone for our railways, modernising services to better serve towns and cities up and down the country.

“Bringing on board a new partner to work with HS2 Ltd now will help ensure we are working towards the same goal.”

Phase one of HS2, due to open in 2026, will see high speed train travel between London and Birmingham before running on from Birmingham on the existing West Coast Main Line.

“We are embarking on a new chapter in our modernisation of the railways and we need world-class expertise to deliver it,” said transport minister Andrew Jones.

“HS2 will be the backbone of Britain’s railways, creating more seats for passengers on the West Coast and increasing capacity on the rest of the network.

“By combining the franchise we are ensuring we get the right people on board at an early stage to design and manage the running of both services in the transition stage. The new franchise will attract highly experienced companies, who have the right experience, which ultimately means a better deal for passengers – both now and in the future.”

The franchise is scheduled to start in April 2019 with the invitation to tender expected in autumn 2017.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Philip Alexander

    Is it still not too late to stop this HS2 madness? It is not the solution to providing greater capacity between London and "the north" since it will have to be a premium priced product aimed at the business market which can afford the fares. It cannot possibly hope to provide a mixed use railway for the freight and commuter segments which are arguably more important than moving rich business people longer distances to save 15 minutes between London and Birmingham for example. It is a pure vanity project to satisfy the egos of politicians and sadly many leading figures in our industry. The fiasco over the GW electrification project budget blowout (more than double according to NAO) shows that yet again the railway estimators are letting the industry down by putting forward knowingly unrealistic low estimates of cost in order to get the project signed off. Are the politicians so stupid that they can't make the simple calculations to find out that the real cost of HS2 will be over £100bn, not the £43bn claimed? Just work it out based on final cost of HS1, plus more tunnelling, more urban engineering, construction inflation, etc. Estimates of a new station at Euston alone are over £7bn and that's without adjusting for "optimism bias". In summary this is a ridiculous project which Britain does not need and cannot afford. Just think how much other capacity could be added to existing railway corridors with that budget. Doesn't anyone have the country's interests at heart these days? Is it all about self interest and civils workload even if it's a completely uneconomic and financially illiterate project?

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