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Transport bosses urge industry to ‘fight’ for HS2 northern section

3124113 hs2

Transport bosses have called on the rail industry to make the business case for the northern half of High Speed 2 (HS2).

HS2 and Crossrail chair Sir Terry Morgan, transport secretary Chris Grayling and Transport for the North chief executive Barry White all urged rail bosses to “make the case” for HS2 Phase 2, connecting Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds.

All three agreed that Phase 2 “wasn’t in the bag”, after a growing number of politicians called for the project to be scrapped.

Earlier this month, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told New Civil Engineer that the route should be scrapped to fund local projects such as a bypass in Bath. Ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson and leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom have also called for the project to be axed in recent weeks.

As a result Morgan said that the industry needs to “fight” for the project.

“I absolutely do think that we still have a selling case to do for HS2,” Morgan said at the Railway Industry Association annual conference. “The truth is, that without the northern section of HS2 there isn’t a business case for the line at all.

“You wouldn’t do HS2 on the basis of Phase 1 [London to Birmingham] on its own. HS2 definitely needs Phase 2, otherwise it does not work.”

He added: “The North and the Midlands have got to fight for the case of HS2. We can always get more support from businesses. I would like to see more of a voice in support of HS2, like London First was for Crossrail. But then it is part of my job now to get businesses to be more engaged.”

Likewise Grayling urged the industry to get behind Phase 2 of HS2.

“This industry has got to help make the case for HS2,” Grayling said. “We have got to continue making that case for it.

“It will be a fantastic railway, one of the best in Europe but it still needs support if it is to definitely go to Leeds and connect to the Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

Meanwhile, White added that the North and Northern Powerhouse Rail is reliant on HS2 going up to Leeds.

He added: “There is clearly an increasing number of voices questioning HS2. I thought HS2 had done a good job in getting public support. But I think we all need to make the case for how important HS2 is to the North and to our business partners.

“It is very important to our plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

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Readers' comments (6)

  • Surely it's more professional to argue for the £10 billion cheaper option that delivers the economic benefits 10 years earlier, at a time cost of 3 minutes at Leeds?

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  • Basically like all other infrastructure development projects, the BCR of the project needs to looked into in order to ensure a robust business case. The risks on the projects appear to add to the total estimated cost. It will take so many years for commissioning Phase 2. Can we afford this project, if the benefits in terms of reduction in the travelling time is not reasonable. The economy of the country is already in precarious conditions. A huge cost will be paid by the affectees of the project, along with decades of disruption to the existing road network particularly on the motorways falling on the route (the Phase 2 looks to impact the motorway infrastructure much more than Phase 1). In the nutshell, the huge cost of the project should be justified on the basis accrued benefits). So the government definitely needs to revisit the project for realistic assessment and intelligent decision, before it is too late.

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  • Surely it's more professional to argue against the whole unnecessary project which has no business case whatsoever? HS2 is nothing more than a political vanity project that requires colossal borrowing.

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  • I see comments along the line of "scrap HS2...vanity project..." on many threads on the topic and I am very disappointed to see engineers making these comments.

    HS2 isn't about saving 10 minutes to get to Birmingham. It's about providing an alternative rail route connecting the major UK cities, from London in the south all the way up to Edinburgh and Glasgow. A rail journey on HS2 from London to Edinburgh would be comparable in total travelling time to flying while being (in theory) cheaper and a whole lot more sustainable.

    Most importantly, HS2 would provide an alternative route to the WCML / ECML. Only (ignorant) people who don't travel by train are unaware of the very frequent incidents which, even if they are localised and don't take long to fix, cause huge delays across the whole route. This is due to congestion and will not be solved by upgrades to the existing infrastructure - new routes are needed.

    HS2 is about building resiliency in the current UK rail infrastructure with the added benefit of cutting down on North-South travel time. It is a piece of strategic infrastructure that has been over-politicised for electoral gains - very unfortunate.

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  • Philip Alexander

    “The truth is, that without the northern section of HS2 there isn’t a business case for the line at all.
    “You wouldn’t do HS2 on the basis of Phase 1 [London to Birmingham] on its own. HS2 definitely needs Phase 2, otherwise it does not work.”

    These are comments by the Chairman of HS2. Yet the brainless politicians are embarking upon the southern end of HS2, Phase 1, with no guarantee that they will fund the northern end. If that's not a vanity project then I am at a loss to know what is.
    And yes it is about shaving 10 minutes off the Birmingham route. There will be such a premium price on travelling by HS2 (how else will the politicians justify the staggering cost of building and running it?) that it will remove very little passenger traffic from the WCML, and the franchise operators will continue to occupy train paths thus releasing NO spare capacity for freight or anything else.
    There is also no possibility of added "resiliency" in the network because the high speed line will be exclusively for HS trains due to the signalling and all the other high-tech (hugely expensive) gizmos, so the idea of HS trains using the WCML or normal trains using HS2 is complete fantasy.
    As a rail user I take offence at being called "ignorant" and I'm disappointed at a correspondent taking a personal snipe at another writer. This is such an ill-conceived project that it's hugely important to have a level-headed debate, something I don't think has happened due to the planning process being hijacked by Parliament and supported blindly by the ICE/NCE due to the jobs it will provide to our profession. So it's quite legitimate for engineers to question the sense of spending £100 BILLION +++ based on (in my case) exactly 50 years of practicing as a civil engineer. Yours FICE

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  • Mr Alexander's comments match mine exactly. There has never ever been a business case for this project and, once you factor in the major disruption to the existing road network for years ,the loss of countryside and habitats and the spiralling costs, being called ignorant is even more offensive. Pity NCE couldn't print a more considered response.

    Mike Knight(M)

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