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Higgins: HS2 is ‘not a political football’

Speaking at the National Infrastructure Forum, HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir David Higgins reaffirmed that huge Parliamentary support exists for the construction of HS2 proceeding as planned, regardless of the colour of the new Government.

He said that construction of Phase 1 would definitely begin in approximately a year’s time, and that route plans for Phase 2b would be completed as scheduled later this year, before a Hybrid Bill can subsequently be presented to Parliament to authorise its construction.

He said: “We’ve had Royal Assent [for Phase 1], which is very important, and we hope by mid-July to award seven construction contracts. Approvals are currently going through Government and we are on track.

“Enabling works have begun, and there will be 18 months or so of intensive design work so heavy construction work can begin in about a year’s time. We need to finalise our plans for Phase 2b by the end of the year, so we can finish our designs for a Hybrid Bill.

“I think it’s important to recognise that we had bi-partisan support [to pass the relevant legislation], and that HS2 has never been a political football. HS2 has always been a good enabler to correct the economic imbalance of an underachieving north and an overachieving south.”

  • To read more on the NIC, read RAIL 829, published on June 21.
  • To read more from David Higgins at the National Rail Conference, read RAIL published on July 5.

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  • Anthony Bianco - 15/06/2017 06:02

    Higgins continues to speak as if the lack of support by the population does not exist also the lack of professional engineering work to date is a scandal how can contracts be placed on such limited preparation will end in vast cost overruns to the tune of £200 Bn not the £55 Bn still being used. A review is needed before contracts placed.

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  • Graham Nalty - 15/06/2017 09:48

    The problem with HS2 is that almost all the support has been from the 'establishment'. HS2 has failed to win support of the general public. Sir David Higgins is wrong to suggest that HS2 will rebalance the economy when all the available academic evidence has shown that the largest city (in this case London) will benefit more. Additionally HS2 is far too much centered on London and does not provide for two of the largest non-London rail traffic flows of Sheffield to Leeds and Stoke to Manchester. Additionally there is little to see in HS2 documentation that HS2 has considered the views or needs of rail passengers to be a priority. With excessive costs at Euston and expensive tunnelling under the Chilterns, HS2 Stage 1 does need some big changes

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  • FrankH - 15/06/2017 22:51

    HS2 is needed but not at the speeds planned. It's a relief route for the WCML not a grand long distance high speed line and should be built as that.

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  • Michaek Bell - 16/06/2017 06:44

    Georges Clemenceau said that “war is too important to be left to the generals” and I say that “railways are too important to be left to railway men”. There is a huge parliamentary majority for HS2, that is because they are buying a dream and a hope. But there are serious doubts about the cost estimates and there is no plan for Euston Station, and even when a plan is produced British procedures will take another year. And then there is Brexit… In their own minds, generals re-fight the last war; we can be sure there are Argentine generals who say “if we had done X, Y, & Z, differently, we could have won the Falklands war.” HS2’s original plan foresaw a rather simple route through 20 Miles of London from Euston to the Colne Valley, but that was found unacceptable and so very expensive changes were made. And a virtue was created out of a difficulty; Old Oak Common, only 3 miles from Euston was invented as giving access to Heathrow. That is the tail wagging the dog, going on Crossrail and the tube adds only 20 minutes to passengers journey from Heathrow to Euston. London might be well served by a new shopping, sports, centre, anywhere. Location at Old Oak Common is irrelevant. It is hard to imagine that many will come from Birmingham just to get to old Old oak Common. It seems to have come as a surprise that going through the Chilterns was not simply “breaking out into open country”. As for the leg within London, costs have grown enormously. As for the leg within London, the original plan has been stuck to. But there is a cheaper and better alternative. A viaduct over the M1 to its junction with the M25 at Waterdale, which will be a very useful road/rail/bus interchange. It could even have the extras touted for Old Oak Common! One of the features of the British Civil service is that it is like a chess player, it always thinks of the next move. And the next move. And… HS2 has not been like that. The HS2 route was first planned as a route London → Birmingham and it would fan out from Birmingham. This line is the basis for the current “Y-shaped route” which has been planned in such a way as to make continuation to Liverpool, Newcastle and Scotland and the Cross-Pennine route “HS3” needlessly difficult. I am not an opponent of HS2, I am an enthusiast for it. Doesn’t it show? I want it to be done better! Michael Bell Michael@beaverbell.co.uk See my ideas http://www.thornshapedroute.com/

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  • John Burns - 16/06/2017 12:18

    `We need to finalise our plans for Phase 2b by the end of the year` That means merging HS2 with HS3/NPR/Northern Crossrail (or whatever name it may be in the future). HS3 is a linear hub. HS2 has no need to be more than phase 1 and phase 2a to Crewe. the rest is waste of money and little value is added. Making the 2 track section of the WCML from Crewe to Warrington into 4 track is a priority and should be done ASAP, irrespective of HS2. Liverpool needs it own lines from Crewe to Weaver junction for many reasons, as this is a highly congested section of the WCML. Scottish services suffer.

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  • Andrew Bosi - 16/06/2017 19:01

    if you say something often enough it becomes accepted as fact. HS2 will widen the north-south divide

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  • R Drew - 24/06/2017 14:02

    Higgins is just an ill informed idiot who hasn't got a clue , although he must know it's a political white elephant sold to MPS (it's all TRAINGATE)

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