Latest Public Sector News

25.11.13

Government publishes HS2 Hybrid Bill

The Hybrid Bill for HS2 has now been published, giving the government the power to construct and operate the new railway.

The DfT has also published the environmental statement for phase one of the scheme linking London Birmingham, with construction expected to begin in 2016/17.

The new Bill specifies that 23% of the line between London and the West Midlands will run through tunnels, with a further 32% of running through cuttings; it includes landscaped earthworks and the planting of at least two million trees to screen the line and reduce noise; special technology to further reduce noise; and eliminating gaps between each carriage to boost aerodynamic efficiency.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “HS2 is the most ambitious and important infrastructure project in the UK since we built the M25 30 years ago, and in 30 more it will be just as integral a part of the nation’s prosperity.

“The Bill will give us the powers we need to get the railway built and start delivering the extra room on our railways that this country so desperately needs. It will also start the process of rebalancing the economy and bringing our great cities closer together.

“That is why the Bill is so important – it marks the move from aspiration to delivery. Now is the time to be bold and ensure HS2 becomes a reality.”

Director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) John Longworth commented: “We have consistently said that investing in HS2 is the best way to deliver increased capacity to our overstretched railways. And it’s not just existing capacity that’s a problem. If we want the economy to grow and businesses to prosper, we are going to need more capacity in the future. The problem is not going to go away and we are at risk of stifling future growth.

“HS2 simply must be built if we are to avoid crippling delays, stifling carriage conditions and weekend chaos that conventional upgrades will bring. Major infrastructure projects have always been controversial in the past. The M25, Crossrail, and the Channel Tunnel were not universally called for, yet look at the economic benefits they have delivered over the years. A new high-speed rail network, as part of a wider infrastructure investment strategy, will release capacity on our roads, and enable firms to move both staff and goods with ease.”

Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese said: “HS2 is a once in a century opportunity for Manchester, and it’s one we should grasp tightly. The deposit of the hybrid Bill into Parliament is a major milestone in making the new north-south high speed line a reality.”

And Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Roger Marsh said: “The new north-south high speed line will give a serious boost to the Leeds City Region economy through the transformational reduction in journey times not just to London but between the cities of the Midlands and North and by greatly increasing the capacity of the railways.”

Derby City Council leader Cllr Paul Bayliss called it a “very significant step” and said: “We welcome the economic opportunities that HS2 should bring, particularly if the East Midlands Station is in the right location.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “With rail passenger numbers along the west coast route set to rise sharply in the next few decades, HS2 is vital for delivering the extra capacity that passengers will need.

“But HS2 isn’t just about helping passengers, it can boost growth and help rebalance the economy too. HS2 will provide new business opportunities at stops along its route, while local employment and apprenticeship clauses could help HS2 to create many thousands of high quality jobs across the country. This is an opportunity we can ill afford to miss out on.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. DfT

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