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HS2 could ‘connect the north’ six years earlier

HS2’s new chairman Sir David Higgins has called for work to be accelerated on the high-speed line in an attempt to complete the first phase of the project six years ahead of schedule.

The former head of Network Rail, who recently came on board at HS2, is today publishing his report, ‘HS2 Plus’, which outlines plans to reduce the cost of the £50bn initiative.

In his report, Sir David has advised ministers to speed up construction on the second phase of the project to bring earlier benefits to the north. As part of a revised timetable, he would like to see a transport hub opened in Crewe by 2027 – connecting the line with the rest of the north west.

Plans to bring forward construction to Crewe would, however, potentially cut the overall budget of £50bn, including contingencies and trains for the line, as finishing work earlier should trim costs.

Speaking to the media, Sir David said: “The construction work of the first phase is due to finish in in Birmingham, but I believe we should take this onto Crewe as part of the same phase. This is because the route between the two is smaller, cheaper and easier to complete within the timescale in connecting the north to the south.

“This project is a huge challenge, but it is crucial to the nation. I am really passionate about rebalancing the economy and enhancing regeneration. In the past, I have learnt that transport is a key to delivering this as it brings jobs to areas which, in turn, help lead to stronger economies.”

Within HS2 Plus, the chairman has stated that the remaining links to Manchester and Leeds could then be completed as early as 2030, bringing the completion date for the whole project forward by three years, thus cutting costs and contingencies.

The former London Olympics chief added that the infrastructure project is “vital for the future of the country”. The chairman also recommends postponing, indefinitely, the link from HS2 to the existing HS1 line, which runs from the Channel Tunnel to St Pancras station in London.

He also rules out suggestions that HS2 could terminate at the new station to be built at Old Oak Common in north-west London, which will serve as an interchange for Crossrail.Instead he has suggested that Euston could be a site for the kind of regeneration seen in nearby St Pancras and King's Cross stations in London. Major redevelopment of Euston was initially planned, but the scale was downgraded by HS2 after local protests

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "HS2 is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. Not only will it link our northern cities and provide the extra space we need on our rail network, but it will provide and safeguard tens of thousands of jobs, giving people economic security for the future.

"Sir David Higgins' report supports this view and confirms that HS2 is the right project at the right price. But he has also set us a challenge – HS2 can be better and delivered quicker."

Peter Sheppard, chair of the Institution of Engineering and Technology Transport Sector, added that “politics aside”, the HS2 initiative will involve significant technical challenges that will make it one of the greatest British engineering feats of modern times.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Dave Mcleod   17/03/2014 at 14:30

The most important aim to right our economy is job creation and security - As I see it the investment of 50b + should go on upgrading infrastruture to and from our countries ports - 40+ ton articulated lorries are damaging our roads now - The HS2 as far as I know will save 20 mins on a journey. Priorities are not right in this case !!!

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