The Queen’s Speech recently, indicated that the high-speed train line, known as HS2, would be supported by two new parliamentary bills. High speed trains aren’t new in the UK, HS1 has been running for some years, connecting London with Kent, the Channel Tunnel and Europe. But for the rest of the UK’s railways, the original Victorian infrastructure has remained in place pretty much as is. Lines are congested, delays are increasing and the need for a long term solution is becoming more and more important.
Enter HS2. Phase One will see a new, high speed route put in place between London and Birmingham. The Queen’s Speech indicated that a High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill is going to be put in place, allowing parliamentary authority for expenditure to build the High Speed Rail network. Coupled with a High Speed 2 Hybrid Bill, which will provide the government with the legal power to compulsory acquire the land required and the ability to grant planning permission to build, it seems that the HS2 project is going to be going full steam ahead.
Phase Two sees connecting branches of the high speed rail network between Birmingham and Manchester, via Manchester Airport, and a second connecting branch to the east joining Birmingham and Leeds. Opening up more areas to high speed travel, reducing commutes and freeing up space on already over-congested lines.
For rail freight hauliers, this new line could mean reduce traffic on the older, currently used routes. As long distance travellers move to the high speed network, domestic services for passengers should also improve, as proven by the current HS1 network, with travel times being reduced as a result, even over smaller distances.
New hubs and stations will be put in place for the Phase Two projects, but the entire HS2 network as a whole is expected to bring in more jobs, greater economic growth and offer a wider reach for those required to commute. Fears that Phase Two would impact plans for the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange depot next to the East Midlands Airport have been allayed with the news that a tunnel already bored beneath the airport will be extended a further kilometre to avoid disruption to the depot.
Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said: “These changes have the potential to deliver huge economic benefits for the East Midlands on top of the already considerable opportunities HS2 will bring the region.
“They also show that we are both maximising the economic impact of HS2 as well as listening to concerns of those affected by it.”