Advanced search

Government report claims HS2 'essential' to UK transport needs

A report published today states the UK will not meet its transport needs without HS2, the proposed high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham with spurs further north.

The strategic case for HS2 provides details that the government believes justify the new railway line in relation to providing extra capacity. Central to the case is new data that shows what the government believes is the true extent of the crisis facing the UK rail network, and the impact alternatives to building HS2 would have.

Research by Network Rail and Atkins shows that the alternative to HS2 would result in up to 14 years of weekend closures on existing lines and deliver only a fraction of the additional capacity.

In a statement, secretary of state for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘We need a radical solution and HS2 is it. A patch and mend job will not do – the only option is a new north south railway. HS2 brings massive benefits to the north, is great for commuters and the alternatives just don’t stack up. Now is the time to be bold and deliver a world class railway which Britain deserves and can truly be proud of. Future generations will not forgive us if we fail to take this opportunity.’

According to a statement from the Department for Transport, the East Coast, West Coast and Midland Main Lines can only carry a finite number of trains each day before they become clogged. HS2 will add 18 trains an hour between Manchester, Leeds and London and will allow significantly more freight onto the wider rail network. The government expects considerable regeneration around stations delivering jobs and growth similar to the experience of HS1, the Channel Tunnel rail link.

The government has updated the benefit to cost ratio (BCR) of the railway, valuing it at £2.30 (revised down from the previous estimate of £2.50), or providing £2 worth of benefits for every £1 spent. This is similar to Crossrail and higher than the benefit cost ratio for some other major projects when approved, such as Thames Link and the Jubilee Line extension. The BCR will increase to 4.5 if rail demand continues to rise until 2049.

Other benefits of the railway included in the document are estimates from Network Rail that over 100 cities and towns could benefit from new or improved services as a result of capacity released on the existing rail network.

These include: additional commuter services into London from places such as Watford, Milton Keynes, Rugby and Northampton; and new commuter services into Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester; and

Commenting on today’s report, Philippa Oldham, head of transport at IMechE said: ‘Commitment to HS2…provides the UK’s engineering industry with the much-needed confidence to invest in future skills and will help the UK become a world leader in the development and delivery of railway technology. Over 95 per cent of Crossrail’s budget to date has been won by UK-based businesses – and this is something which could and should be replicated in HS2.

‘The UK national rail network continues to see growth year on year, with 1.5 billion passenger journeys in 2011/12, which represents an increase of over 50 per cent in a decade. With this increase expected to continue to match population growth, we need strong government leadership to ensure HS2 happens.’

Related Files

Readers' comments (2)

  • All this talk of the benefits to so many towns and cities 'up north' is all very well. but these places are already served by fairly high-speed electrified railways already. What about the forgotten corner of the UK? Brunel's magnificent main line from both Bristol (via Taunton) and London,(via Westbury) to Exeter, Plymouth, Truro, Camborne/Redruth and Penzance has been entirely ignored. Even the onetime-Southern main line from Waterloo to Exeter has been downgraded to little more than a single-track branch line. Did I see somewhere that Devon is the UKs second largest county?...and the deprivation in Torbay and Cornwall are amongst the worst in the UK?
    Entirely, I suggest, because industry, and therefore jobs, prosperity, etc., are conspicuous by their absence largely because there is no speedy, efficient, cost-effective transport system to the SouthWest. Even the excellent HST 125s are now 30 years old. The existing route at Dawlish is the most expensive in the UK to maintain because of it's proximity to the sea, but the Exeter to Plymouth trackbed via Okehampton and Tavistock is nearly all intact: thats where electrification to the WestCountry would bring untold benefits.
    Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds? - try living down here and running a successful company.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    Proper cost/benefit analysis of the current HS2 proposal requires taking a broad, and in-depth look at the long-term consequences of Great Britain empty-headedly adopting another country's inventions and technologies for an integral--- and extremely high-profile--- component of the nation's transportation system!!

    If Britain wants to resign itself to being a third-rate country, and seen world-wide to be following the technological and innovation lead of countries like France and Germany... then HS2 in its current lazy, ambitionless and dangerously short-sighted format would be a good way to achieve this...

    Because of the science fiction-like aspects of today's high-speed train systems- and the resulting extensive international interest and scrutiny of high-speed rail- and because of the "global display window" that high-speed rail projects provide their respective designers/manufacturers... the UK, and UK plc generally, should be at the forefront- not in the back seat- of high-speed rail projects in the UK...

    High-speed rail in the United Kingdom should be part of a much, much bigger agenda that explicitly addresses the need for a substantial increase in UK-designed public and commercial transportation products (and services) such as high-speed and urban rail, trams, high-technology buses, etc...

    ... products and services whose main purpose is the export market...

    The only way that HS2 should go ahead is if there is a UK-wide plebiscite indicating support for the project and if the HS2's parameters are expanded so as to make the project one that would command substantial ongoing global attention and one that would showcase the United Kingdom's best high-technology firms:

    A) the entire HS2 project should be expanded so that the route would be from Folkestone to northern England/Manchester/Leeds and to at lest 2 major cities in Scotland and to Northern Ireland/Belfast via a world-beating undersea tunnel;

    B) A substantially expanded HS2 project should be built on a timetable designed to impress and to generate international confidence in the UK's industrial capabilities and economic potential- no less than 9-years!!;

    C) The rail gage of HS2 should be 25%- 40% bigger than that used by the Continent's high-speed rail systems and that used between Folkestone and Brussels...

    Broader gage track would enable the design and use within the UK of much better, bigger high-speed trains that, because of the wider track that they would run on, would be capable of being designed for significantly higher speeds than France's TGV and Germany's ICE high-speed rail systems...

    Having high-speed trains in use in the UK that are substantially more spacious, better equipped and faster than Continental firms' high-speed trains (Alstom, Siemens)... could only increase the likelihood of countries that are considering building high-speed (and other types of rail systems)- such as India, Brazil, US, Canada, etc- choosing bigger, better, faster 'UK high-speed train model(s)' over competitors' products...

    .... which would do far more to generate UK jobs with UK-exports-as-their-primary-purpose than would the UK going with HS2 in its current un-ambitious, slavish format... a format that will end up functioning as a defacto country-wide-advertisement for foreign countries' high-technology and transportation expertise.... and implicitly ridiculing British companies' capabilities...

    D) HS2 should be built as a partnership and/or joint-venture between the UK's best and most capable high-tech firms (BAE, Rolls-Royce, GKN...) with proven-as-competent overseas transportation industry companies such as Hitachi, Kawasaki, Hyundai/Rotem, Bombardier...

    Overseas Sovereign Wealth Funds from economically savvy countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Dubai should be approached for participation in an expanded HS2 project...

    E) UK Voters should be enabled to vote via plebiscite on the HS2 project as to:

    - whether it goes ahead;

    - the entire HS2 route, IE: should HS2 run throughout the UK- to Scotland and N Ireland?;

    - HS2's rail gage- IE: should HS2's track width and passenger cars be bigger. better and faster than existing high-speed systems world-wide?;

    - time-for-construction for the entire HS2 project, IE: should HS2 be built in a foreseeable time-frame... less than 9-years??

    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say


My saved stories (Empty)

You have no saved stories

Save this article