Rail campaigners welcome green light for HS2
Boris Johnson has given the immediate go-ahead to construct Phase 1 and Phase 2A of HS2. “We’re delighted that the Prime Minister has recognised the contribution that investment in our railways can make in addressing economic development, social imbalance and environmental concerns across Britain” said Chris Page, chairman of Britain’s leading independent campaign group Railfuture.
The route goes between Old Oak Common (West London) to Birmingham and onward to Crewe where the line will join the West Coast Main Line to Manchester, North West England, and Scotland. The prime minister has also given the conditional go-ahead for the later Phase 2B from Crewe to Manchester and the important North East leg to the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds, subject to a detailed exercise on contract costs and possibly some descoping.
The terminal at Euston will also go ahead, several years after the line opens from Old Oak Common, as a separately managed project including the major commercial development envisaged at Euston. This will be required very soon after HS2 opens, as Old Oak Common is unlikely to have the capacity to accommodate the envisaged number of trains after the initial build-up period.
“To get maximum benefits, the full scheme including Phase 2B must be completed as a single programme, delivered in increments, and designed to maximise capacity available on the national rail network” said Chris.“Cost control is important but any descoping must not be allowed to reduce the capacity of HS2 given its essential role in facilitating additional capacity to supplement existing main line routes, including the West Coast, Midland and East Coast Lines as well as urban rail capacity in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.”
“The Prime Minister has rightly emphasised that Northern Powerhouse Rail, i.e. a high-capacity West to East link from Liverpool and Manchester to Leeds, Hull and into the East Coast Line to Teesside and Tyneside, is also essential. Railfuture contends that there is considerable synergy and hence overall capital cost reduction if HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are treated as a single entity in development and planning terms, so providing a link from Manchester Airport directly into Manchester city centre and directly onward on Northern Powerhouse Rail to Leeds.”
“Whilst this is great news it will do nothing for passengers now, so we also call on the government and rail companies to sort out the problems which are causing poor reliability and customer satisfaction. This does not necessarily mean spending lots of money, just getting timetabling, rostering, staff terms and conditions, customer service, ticketing and the introduction of new and cascaded trains right.”
“Growth is happening now, it will not wait for HS2. There is also a necessary series of essential tactical improvements to the existing rail network to provide increased capacity during the time that HS2 is being constructed and so allow HS2 to hit the ground running. An integrated plan is required for freight, both existing but growing freight flows in addition to massive freight flows on existing overcrowded routes necessary to construct HS2 itself, particularly aggregates, cement and steel.”
“We see HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail as the backbone of an integrated plan to develop Britain’s railways to achieve their full potential. The government in funding HS2 has set the challenge, now the industry must rise to that challenge, operationally and in terms of sustained project delivery.”
Notes to editors:
Railfuture is the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for both passengers and freight.
Railfuture's website can be found at: www.railfuture.org.uk
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Bruce Williamson, media spokesman
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media at railfuture.org.uk