High speed rail

Britain’s railways face a capacity crisis which is not going away. There is no “do nothing” option. Additional enhancements to existing lines to increase capacity are essential particularly at stations and junctions. These alone cannot provide the step change that a new line properly integrated with the existing system can provide. It is not an “either or” choice – we need upgrades to the classic network and a new high-speed network too.

HS1 lessons for HS2

High Speed 2

HS2 is now going ahead on the basis of cross party support. This must be sustained and it is vital for the opposition parties to maintain their support if the parliamentary process is to be successful. If HS2 is abandoned, we run the risk of losing this investment for decades. To provide the capacity the network needs, each phase of HS2 must be delivered, to the West Midlands, to the North West and North East and to Scotland.

Maps of the planned route and public consultation documents can be downloaded from the HS2 website. You can download Railfuture’s consultation responses here.

Railfuture has maintained from the start that HS2 must be designed to maximise the capacity of the rail network and be integrated into regional transport networks in order to maximise regional economic benefits. This was endorsed by the Higgins report published on the HS2 website which stated that better integration of phase 2 into the existing network is needed. We welcomed the report of the HS2 Growth Taskforce published on the DfT website which concluded that HS2 will drive urban regeneration.

On 23 February 2017 the HS2 Hybrid Bill for Phase 1 was granted Royal Assent. This gave powers for construction and operation of Phase 1 of HS2 from London Euston via Old Oak Common (with a Crossrail connection to Heathrow) and Birmingham International to Birmingham Curzon Street. Major construction will start in 2018. Although Railfuture strongly supports an integrated city centre stations, we recognise that this is impossible at Birmingham Grand New Street. Railfuture therefore strongly welcomes and supports the West Midlands Curzon Street Masterplan to integrate the HS2 Birmingham station into the city transport network, including light rail extensions.

On 17 July 2017 the government introduced the Hybrid Bill for Phase 2a and announced the route for Phase 2b. We support the plans for Phase 2, although improvements to connectivity in the East Midlands to Nottingham and Derby are essential. We welcome the decision to co-locate the Leeds HS2 terminal with the existing station, serving the City Centre and connecting with the regional rail network; this will spread the potential benefits across the economically important West Yorkshire region. Likewise we support the decision for Sheffield city centre to be served by classic-compatible HS2 services via a loop through Sheffield Midland station.

We are in favour of the concept of the Crewe Hub, which will bring benefit to the North earlier, provided that:
  • the HS2 platforms are adjacent to the existing station for east connections
  • both north and south facing connections are available so that classic-compatible HS2 services can be extended north to Preston/Lancaster/Penrith and south to Stafford/Stoke/Macclesfield
  • allowance is made for links with Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The legislative timetable is a key cost driver, so we urge Government to progress this Hybrid Bill and introduce the hybrid bill for Phase 2b urgently. Maintaining the timescale and all party support for this is essential. We also urge Government to press ahead in parallel with Phase 3 to connect Scotland as strongly advocated by the Scottish Government.

We support redevelopment of Euston to capitalise on the economic opportunity, but HS2 Limited's fourth plan for Euston station has an increased cost, massive property demolition and more disruption over a longer timescale. The proposed, but not yet included extension of Crossrail to Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Tring would allow a reduced footprint at Euston for HS2 terminating trains by relocating many suburban services currently serving Euston. A complete more strategic rethink of Euston is advocated by Railfuture. The alternative proposal for Euston Express should be considered as this would provide the necessary capacity sooner whilst costing £1.5Bn to £2Bn less and avoiding significant disruption to passengers and the local community.

Rather than re-build Euston station for new HS2 terminus platforms two peers including Railfuture Vice President Lord Berkeley proposed brand new Euston Cross through station below ground between Euston and King's Cross stations allowing quick interchange and providing efficient link between HS1 and HS2 We agree with the judgement of the Higgins report published on the HS2 website that the previous HS1 - HS2 link proposal is suboptimal, but recommend that passive provision be made for an HS1 - HS2 link to better integrate HS2 with the existing network in the longer term. When HS2 has been extended to the North and Scotland, and there is an identified need to connect to HS1 to provide through services to the South East and the continent, a new east-west connection to HS1 could be built, with one or more stations in the London area, including Stratford International in East London to match the station in West London at Old Oak Common, and possibly 'Euston Cross' - a double-ended underground station between Euston and Kings Cross alongside the proposed Crossrail 2 station. To achieve a reasonable business case, it would have to carry domestic Thameslink-type services as well. Passive provision be made for such a link should be made within the tunnels from Old Oak Common.

This would allow HS1 Javelin services to be extended to Milton Keynes and Northampton and HS2 services to serve Stratford International, Ebbsfleet and Ashford so providing links to Kent and direct International Eurostar connections from HS2 to Paris and Brussels without additional security and customs and immigration locations in central London.

High Speed 1

Image Britain's first high-speed rail line has proved a great success since opening in November 2007. The picture shows the 19th century arched roof of London St Pancras with its new flat-roof extension. The new station is now used by Eurostars from France and Belgium, South Eastern Javelins from Kent (also used for the 2012 Olympics), Midland Mainline trains and Thameslink. Railfuture looks forward to regular direct through services to Antwerp and Amsterdam plus Koln and Frankfurt from St Pancras International.

For information on High Speed 1 see:

Benefits of High Speed Rail

High speed rail can deliver economic growth, social inclusion and national prestige to Britain, just as it has for France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Japan. There is a business case, as well as an economic, safety and accessibility case for high speed rail in Britain. There will also be environmental benefits in the reduction of air pollution, resulting from air and road traffic switching to rail.

Railfuture strongly supports the construction of new railway lines, including a high-speed network, because Britain's successful railway is filling up fast and new capacity will be desperately needed. Building new high speed lines frees up the old main lines for freight and local trains, and allows train operators to run longer trains and more of them. Upgrading old railways snarls up the system, costs large amounts of money and adds only little extra capacity. High speed trains can cut journey times in half and building new lines costs little more than upgrading conventional lines.

The extra greenhouse gases produced will be cancelled out by people switching from cars and planes to trains. Achieving that switch from cars and planes to trains will be a massive national benefit.

Join our Rail Campaign

Railfuture holds many conferences on rail issues, including our 2011 High Speed Rail conference, and our branches are actively engaged with stakeholders campaigning to ensure Britain gets the best possible rail network addressing economic, social and transport needs of the Country.

Join Railfuture online today - click here.

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