High Speed 2

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High Speed 2
UK high speed rail map.png
Planned High Speed 2 route
Type High-speed railway
System National Rail
Status Planned for 2026 (phase 1) and 2032-3 (phase 2)
Locale England
Phase 1: Greater London, West Midlands
Phase 2: North West, Yorkshire
Potential future phases: North East England, Scotland
Termini London Euston
Phase 1: Birmingham Curzon Street and
WCML connection near Rugeley
Phase 2: Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds
Potential future termini: Liverpool Lime Street, Newcastle, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central
Stations 4 (phase 1) 6 (Phase 2)
Line length

Phase 1: 140 miles (230 km);

Phases 1 and 2: 330 miles (530 km)[1]
Number of tracks Double track or Quadruple in some sections
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Loading gauge GC
Electrification 25 kV AC overhead
Operating speed Up to 400 km/h (250 mph)[2]
High Speed 2
National Rail Manchester Metrolink
Manchester Piccadilly
National Rail
National Rail Manchester Metrolink Airport interchange
Manchester Interchange
National Rail Supertram (Sheffield)
National Rail
East Midlands Hub
National Rail Nottingham Express Transit
Phase 1
Phase 2
Phase 1
Phase 2
National Rail Midland Metro
Birmingham New Street
Birmingham Curzon Street
National Rail
Birmingham Moor Street
National Rail Airport interchange
Birmingham International
Birmingham Interchange
Maintenance loops
and depot
maintenance loop
maintenance depot
maintenance loop
Stoke Mandeville
National Rail Crossrail London Underground Airport interchange
Heathrow Airport
Old Oak Common National Rail Crossrail London Overground London Underground
to High Speed 1
National Rail London Underground London Overground

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a planned high-speed railway in the United Kingdom which is aimed to be the new backbone of the national rail network, linking London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.[3][4][5] The line is to be built in a "Y" configuration, with London on the bottom of the "Y", Birmingham at the centre, Leeds at the top right and Manchester at the top left. Work on Phase One began in 2017,[6] with planned first services in 2026. Phase 2a to Crewe on the left leg of the "Y" is due to start services in 2027, with the remaining phase 2b starting by 2033.[3]

Services running on the new route will be provided by two dedicated fleets of trains: 'captive' which will run only on the high speed network and slightly smaller 'classic compatible' which can additionally run on the existing network. [7] The classic-compatible trains will serve the additional cities beyond the high speed network including Carlisle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield and York. The HS2 project is being developed by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, a company limited by guarantee established by the UK government and has a projected cost of £56 billion, up from the initial cost of £32.7 billion in 2010.[8] Peak hour capacity arriving/leaving Euston will more than triple once HS2 is running, increasing from 11,300 to 34,900 passengers each way.

The project is to be built in two phases. Phase One is from London to the West Midlands and Phase 2 from the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester. Phase 2 is split into two sub-phases, Phase 2a and Phase 2b. Phase 2a is from the West Midlands to Crewe. Phase 2b will extend the project from Crewe to Manchester, and the West Midlands to Leeds.[9]

In July 2017, decisions on the full "Y" route were approved by Parliament.[3] HS2 will be the second high-speed rail line in Britain, after the much shorter High Speed 1 (HS1) which connects London to the Channel Tunnel.



High-speed rail arrived in the United Kingdom with the opening in 2003 of the first part of High Speed 1 (then known as the 108 km (67 mi) Channel Tunnel Rail Link) between London and the Channel Tunnel. The assessment of the case for a second high-speed line was proposed in 2009 by the DfT under the Labour government, which was to be developed by a new company, High Speed Two Limited (HS2 Ltd).[10]

Following a review by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition, [11] a route was opened to public consultation in December 2010. [12][13] based on a Y-shaped route from London to Birmingham with branches to Leeds and Manchester, as originally put forward by the previous Labour government,[14] with alterations designed to minimise the visual, noise, and other environmental impacts of the line.[12]

In January 2012 the Secretary of State for Transport announced that HS2 would go ahead in two phases and the legislative process would be achieved through two hybrid bills.[15][16] The High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Act 2017 authorising the construction of Phase One passed both Houses of Parliament and received Royal Assent in February 2017.[17] Phase 2a High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) bill seeking the power to construct Phase Two up to Crewe and decisions on the remainder of the Phase 2b route was introduced in July 2017. [18]


Phase One – London to the West Midlands[edit]

Phase One of HS2 from London to Birmingham

Phase one will link London Euston to new Birmingham Curzon Street station. Additionally, the line will branch east of Birmingham with a spur joining the existing West Coast Main Line (WCML) just north of Lichfield in Staffordshire which will provide services to the North West of England and Scotland via a combination of HS2 and the WCML track using classic compatible trains.

As proposed in March 2010, the line would run from London Euston mostly in a tunnel, to an interchange with Crossrail west of London Paddington, then along the Acton–Northolt line ("New North Main Line") past West Ruislip and alongside the Chiltern Main Line with a 4.0 km (2.5 mi) viaduct over the Grand Union Canal and River Colne, and then from the M25 to Amersham in a new 10 km (6 mi) tunnel. After emerging from the tunnel, the line would run parallel to the existing A413 road and London to Aylesbury Line, through the 47 km (29 mi) wide Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, passing close by Great Missenden to the east, alongside Wendover immediately to the west, then on to Aylesbury. After Aylesbury, the line would run alongside the Aylesbury–Verney Junction line, joining it north of Quainton Road and then striking out to the north-west across open countryside through North Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, South Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire terminating the phase at Lichfield with a connection onto the WCML. The line would be operative and trains moving onto the classic track WCML while phase 2 is built.

Several alignments were studied, and in September 2010 HS2 Ltd set out recommendations for altering the course at certain locations.[19]

In December 2010 the Transport Secretary announced several amendments to the route aimed at mitigating vibration, noise, or visual impact. These changes include, at Primrose Hill, in north London, moving the tunnel 100 m (330 ft) further north, and in west London reducing the width of the Northolt Corridor; lowering the alignment and creating a 900 m (3,000 ft) green tunnel in Buckinghamshire at South Heath; at nearby Amersham, where two footpaths would otherwise be severed, at Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire and Burton Green in Warwickshire, green bridges would be constructed; the alignment would be moved away from the settlements of Brackley, in Northamptonshire, Ladbroke and Stoneleigh in Warwickshire and Lichfield in southern Staffordshire, and from the Grade I listed buildings Hartwell House in Buckinghamshire and Edgcote House in Northamptonshire.[20][not in citation given]

In January 2012 the Transport Secretary announced further revisions to the Phase One route. The key revisions included a new 4.3 km (2.7 mi) tunnel at South Ruislip avoiding the Chiltern Line and mitigating the impact in the Ruislip area; realignment of the route and extension of the continuous tunnel, originally from the M25 to Amersham, to near Little Missenden; at Wendover and nearby South Heath extension to the green tunnels to reduce impact on local communities; an extension to the green tunnel beside Chipping Warden and Aston Le Walls; and realignment to avoid heritage sites around Edgcote. The revised route would comprise 36.2 km (22.5 mi) in tunnel or green tunnel compared to 23.3 km (14.5 mi), a 55% increase. Overall, 127 km (79 mi) of the 230 km (140 mi) route will be in tunnel or cutting, while 64 km (40 mi) will be on viaduct or embankment, a reduction of 16 km (10 mi) from the route in the original consultation documents.[4][5]

In April 2013 a decision by HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport to recommend further bore tunnelling under the 9 km (6 mi) 'Northolt Corridor' in the London Borough of Ealing was announced in an HS2 Ltd press release. The tunnel will minimise blight for residents and businesses and eliminate the substantial impact of traffic which a surface route would otherwise have caused.[21] The further bore tunnelling will link up the tunnels already planned beneath South Ruislip and Ruislip Gardens and Old Oak Common to North Acton. HS2 Ltd found in a study they had undertaken that bored tunnelling this specific stretch of the HS2 route will take 15 months less time than constructing a surface HS2 route through this area. In addition the costs will be neutral. The cost neutrality is due to the fact that 20 bridge replacements, including three and a half years to replace both road bridges at the Hanger Lane Gyratory System, amenity disruption, the construction of two tunnel portals and the likelihood of substantial compensation payments will all be avoided.[22] The proposed tunnel will be included as the preferred option in the draft Environmental Statement for the first phase of HS2. The decision to recommend tunnelling the section of HS2 route through the London Borough of Ealing has been well received and has been billed as a victory for local residents and local grassroots activism.[23][24] In addition to preventing blight to homes, schools and businesses the decision will also help to preserve the tranquility of Perivale Wood, an ancient wood, bird sanctuary and Britain's second oldest nature reserve,[25] Tunnelling HS2 in this section of the route will additionally free up the Acton–Northolt line for future local rail services.

In November 2015, the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that the HS2 line would be extended to Crewe by 2027, reducing journey times from London to Crewe by 35 minutes. The section from Lichfield to Crewe is Phase 2a and will be simultaneously built with Phase One, effectively merging Phase 2a with Phase One. The proposed Crewe Hub will be built as part of Phase 2a.[26]

Phase 2 – West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds[edit]

Phase 2 of HS2 to Leeds and Manchester

Phase two will create two branch lines from Birmingham running north either side of the Pennines creating a "Y" network. Phase 2 is split into two phases, phase 2a and 2b. Phase 2a is the section from Lichfield to Crewe on the western section of the "Y" and phase 2b the remainder of phase 2.

The western section:
This section of the "Y" route extends north from Lichfield connecting to the northbound classic WCML at Bamfurlong south of Wigan taking services to Scotland, with a branch to the existing Manchester Piccadilly station. A branch onto the WCML at Crewe takes trains on classic track 64 km (40 mi) forty miles into Liverpool.
The eastern section:
This section of the "Y" branches at Coleshill to the east of Birmingham and routes north to just before York where it connects onto the northbound classic ECML projecting services to the North East of England and Scotland. The line from Birmingham northbound will incorporate the proposed East Midlands Hub located at Toton between Derby and Nottingham. The East Midlands Hub will serve Derby, Leicester and Nottingham. The initial plan was for the line to serve Sheffield directly via a new raised station adjacent to Tinsley Viaduct, near to Meadowhall Interchange. This met with opposition from Sheffield Council, which lobbied for the line to be routed via a spur to the site of the former Sheffield Victoria Station. It was claimed that the initial proposed route, which incorporated a viaduct 6 tracks wide along a two mile long viaduct across the Don valley would have sat on a major geological fault with flooded historic mine workings below. Sheffield Council's alternate route was rejected in favour of a route along existing tracks. The new proposed route is to connect the HS2 route to existing lines near to Clay Cross, in Derbyshire, going via Sheffield station before rejoining HS2 east of Grimethorpe.[27][28][29][30] A branch will take the line to new high speed platforms constructed onto the side of the existing Leeds station.[31][32][33] Consultation on the route is planned to take place in 2014, with the line is expected to be built by 2033.[5] The Leeds branch would diverge just north of Coleshill and head in a north-easterly direction roughly parallel to the M42 motorway. A high speed spur line will serve Leeds, with the main line of the branch heading north-east to meet the East Coast Main Line near York.[34]

The Manchester branch would be an extension of the Phase One line north of Lichfield north of the connecting spur to the West Coast Main Line (WCML). The line will continue north, with a second connection to the WCML at Crewe junction. A high-speed station will not be built at Crewe.[35] At Millington in Cheshire, the line will divide at a triangular junction, with the Manchester branch veering east, a connecting spur to the West Coast Main Line and a third line linking the Manchester branch to the West Coast Main Line. Close to Manchester Airport, the route will enter a 16-kilometre (10 mi) tunnel, emerging at Ardwick where the line will continue to its terminus at Manchester Piccadilly.

The route to the West Midlands will be the first stage of a line to Scotland,[36] and passengers travelling to or from Scotland will be able to use through trains with a saving of 45 minutes from day one.[37] It was recommended by a Parliamentary select committee on HS2 in November 2011 that a statutory clause should be in the bill that will guarantee HS2 being constructed beyond Birmingham so that the economic benefits are spread farther.[38]


In November 2016 the plans were approved by the Government and the route was confirmed.[39][40]

Possible South Yorkshire Hub[edit]

Changes were made to the eastern leg of the HS2 "Y" route through South Yorkshire with Meadowhall on the outskirts of Sheffield being dropped from the scheme. The city of Sheffield will be served directly to its city centre at Sheffield Midland station, which will be accessed via classic track via Chesterfield to the south of the city, which will branch onto HS2 track to the south of Chesterfield. There are suggestions for a new 'South Yorkshire Hub' station to be built to replace Meadowhall. However the current plans have no firm proposals. The proposal is a future hub near Thurnscoe, Rotherham or Dearne Valley.[41][42] The plans were backed by Sir David Higgins on 13 December 2016 and would see a new South Yorkshire Parkway Station.[43]

The Transport Document, released in July 2016, stated:

As mentioned above, I also believe that HS2 should carry out a study to make recommendations to the Secretary of State on the potential for a parkway station on the M18/Eastern leg route which could serve the South Yorkshire area as a whole.

In January 2017, the government published 8 possible sites for the hub across South Yorkshire and also said they would consider a 'South Yorkshire Hub'.[44]

Sites being considered include: Bramley in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, Clayton in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, Fitzwilliam in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Hemsworth in Wakefield, Hickleton in Doncaster, Hooton Roberts in Rotherham, Mexborough in Doncaster and Wales in Rotherham.

On 18 July 2017, MP's called for the government to build a parkway station on the planned HS2 route through South Yorkshire after the government confirmed the HS2 Route would be the M18 Eastern Route. Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling has confirmed in a letter to MP John Healey, the MP for Wentworth and Dearne, that a parkway station in South Yorkshire is ongoing and that Grayling and the other local MP's were pushing for the case of a station.[45]

In September 2017, leaders called for a station in South Yorkshire, while HS2 Ltd said any new station would require a consultation and that they were still assessing the 8 sites proposed in January 2017. Any new station would have to be near to the existing railway lines in order to provide the best benefits of HS2.[46]

In December 2017, the chairman of HS2 ordered a decision on the HS2 parkway station in South Yorkshire to made soon and also confirmed that only 3 options were being assessed. The decision will need to be made before a final decision in Parliament is made in 2019.[47]

Possible future phases – Liverpool / Newcastle / Scotland[edit]

At present, there are no DfT proposals to extend new high-speed lines north of either Leeds or Manchester or west to Liverpool. High-speed trains will be capable of accessing some destinations off the high-speed lines using the existing classic rail tracks. The maximum speeds of HS2 trains on these tracks will be no more than existing slower non-tilting trains.


Taking HS2 directly to Liverpool may be accommodated via Northern Powerhouse Rail (HS3). A House of Commons Briefing Paper, Number CBP07082, 15 November 2016, High Speed 2 (HS2) Phases 2a, 2b and beyond, states:

"TfN has examined two options that make use of HS2 to connect Manchester and Liverpool. Both options involve construction of a new line to Liverpool, and a junction onto the HS2 route. Under these options it would be possible to deliver NPR's ambitions for a 30 minute journey between Manchester and Liverpool, connecting the cities via Manchester Airport"[48]

A ‘passive provision’, which is a small section of additional HS2 track would enable the future construction to connect Northern Powerhouse Rail (HS3) to the HS2 network, taking place without disruption to services once they are running. This will be provided for in the Hybrid Bill.[49] However, as yet there is no firm commitment to a direct HS2 link into Liverpool.

The city of Liverpool which was omitted from the HS2 scheme, in February 2016 offered £2 billion towards funding a direct HS2 line into Liverpool's city centre. The nearest HS2 track is only 16 miles (26 kilometres) from the city.[50]


The Scottish Partnership Group for High Speed Rail in June 2011 campaigned for the extension of the HS2 to Newcastle.[51]


In Scotland, business and governmental organisations including Network Rail, CBI Scotland and Transport Scotland (the transport agency of the Scottish Government) formed the Scottish Partnership Group for High Speed Rail in June 2011 to campaign for the extension of the HS2 project north to Edinburgh and Glasgow. It published a study in December 2011 which outlined a case for extending high-speed rail to Scotland, proposing a route north of Manchester to Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as an extension to Newcastle.[51]

Speaking at the 2009 Labour Party Conference, the then Transport Secretary Lord Adonis outlined a policy for high-speed rail in the UK as an alternative to domestic air travel, with particular emphasis on travel between the major cities of Scotland and England. "I see this as the union railway, uniting England and Scotland, north and south, richer and poorer parts of our country, sharing wealth and opportunity, pioneering a fundamentally better Britain," he stated in his speech.[52]

In November 2012 the Scottish Government announced plans to build a 74 km (46 mi) high-speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The proposed link would have reduced journey times between the two cities to under 30 minutes and was planned to open by 2024, eventually connecting to the high-speed network being developed in England.[53] The plan was cancelled in 2016.[54]

In May 2015, it was reported that HS2 Ltd has concluded that there was "no business case" to extend HS2 north into Scotland, and that high-speed rail services would run north of Manchester and Leeds on conventional classic track.[55]

Greengauge 21 at the National HSR Conference in Glasgow in September 2015 recommended a mixture of high-speed and existing classic track to Scotland to reduce journey times. This would use planned HS2 track, existing WCML track and sections of newly laid high-speed track.[56]

In July 2016 it was reported that the 400-metre-long HS2 trains using the existing classic track will not be accommodated at Glasgow Central or Glasgow Queen Street stations, due to insufficient space to extend the platforms. Extended or new platforms would require compulsory purchase of buildings and land. Instead, the proposals suggested a possible third major station in Glasgow.[57]

Proposals to extend HS2 to Scotland via the East Coast have included plans for a new station outside of York. This station could be built on the A59, the A64, outer ring road or Harrogate to York railway line. [58]

Proposed service pattern[edit]

HS2 will provide up to 18 trains an hour by 2033 to and from London. [3] As of 2018 the service pattern is yet to be defined; the assumptions used in the modelling in Department for Transport's economic case for HS2, updated for Phase Two, used the following service pattern:[59]

Phase One
Start Destination Trains per hour Intermediate stations
London Euston Birmingham Curzon Street 3 Old Oak Common (OOC), Birmingham Interchange
Birmingham Interchange 3 OOC
Liverpool Lime Street 2 OOC, Stafford (1tph), Crewe (1tph), Runcorn
Manchester Piccadilly 3 OOC, Wilmslow (1tph), Stockport
Preston 1 OOC, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western
Glasgow 1 OOC, Preston
Phase Two
Start Destination Trains per hour Intermediate stations
London Euston Curzon Street 3 Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange (2tph)
Manchester Piccadilly 3 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph) and Manchester Airport (2tph)
Liverpool Lime Street 2 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, Stafford (1tph), Crewe (1tph) and Runcorn
Preston 1 Old Oak Common, Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western
Glasgow Central 2 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston and Carstairs
Edinburgh 2 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston, Carstairs and Edinburgh Haymarket
Leeds 3 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub (1tph), Chesterfield (1tph) Sheffield Midland (1tph)
Sheffield Midland 2 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange, East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (1tph)
York 1 Old Oak Common & East Midlands Hub
Newcastle 2 Old Oak Common (1tph), Birmingham Interchange and York
Birmingham Interchange Curzon Street 1 No intermediate stops
Liverpool Lime Street 2 (per day) Crewe and Runcorn
Curzon Street Stafford 0.5 No intermediate stops
Crewe 0.5 No intermediate stops
Manchester Piccadilly 1 Crewe and Manchester Interchange
Liverpool Lime Street 2 Crewe (1tph) and Runcorn
Preston 2 (per day) Crewe, Manchester Interchange and Wigan North Western
Carlisle 2 (per day) Manchester Interchange, Wigan North Western and Preston
Glasgow Central 1 Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle
Edinburgh 1 Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle
Sheffield Midland 1 East Midlands Hub and Chesterfield (3tph)
Leeds 1 East Midlands Hub
York 1 East Midlands Hub and Sheffield Midland (2tph)
Newcastle 1 York
Stafford Crewe 1 (per day) No intermediate stops
Liverpool Lime Street 1 Runcorn
Crewe Liverpool Lime Street 1 Runcorn
Manchester Piccadilly 1 Manchester Interchange
Glasgow Central 1 Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle
Manchester Interchange Preston 1 Wigan North Western
Glasgow Central 0.5 Wigan North Western, Preston and Carlisle
Edinburgh 0.5 Preston and Carlisle
Preston Glasgow Central 1 Carlisle
Carlisle Glasgow Central 1 No intermediate stops
York Newcastle 1 No intermediate stops


Services on High Speed 2 will be included in the new West Coast Partnership franchise, which will replace the existing InterCity West Coast franchise upon its expiry on 1 April 2020. The shortlisted bidders for the franchise were announced by the Department for Transport in June 2017[60], including:

The government is to invite tenders for the new franchise in October or November 2017, setting out what it wants from the winning bidder.[61][62] The new franchise will run for the first three to five years of HS2's operation.[63][64][65] The Government has not ruled out the possibility of open access operators.[66][67][68]


There has been no announcement about how HS2 tickets will be priced, although the government said that it would "assume a fares structure in line with that of the existing railway" and that HS2 should attract sufficient passengers to not have to charge premium fares.[69] Paul Chapman, in charge of HS2's public relations strategy, suggested that there could be last minute tickets sold at discount rates. He said, "when you have got a train departing on a regular basis, maybe every five or ten minutes, in that last half hour before the train leaves and you have got empty seats...you can start selling tickets for £5 and £10 at a standby rate."[70]


Peak hour capacity leaving/entering Euston[71]
Current capacity
Capacity post HS2[72]
Slow commuter 3,900 6,500
Fast commuter 1,600 6,800
Intercity 5,800 1,800
High speed 0 19,800
Total 11,300 34,900

HS2 will carry up to 26,000 people per hour.[15] The line will be used intensively with 15 trains per hour travelling to and from Euston. As all trains will be travelling at the same speed, capacity is increased as faster trains have no need to reduce speed for slower trains. The line is only for high speed passenger trains eliminating slow freight and commuter trains. Moving high speed trains off the West Coast Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line will release capacity for slower commuter trains. Andrew McNaughton, Chief Technical Director, said, “Basically, as a dedicated passenger railway, we can carry more people per hour than two motorways. It’s phenomenal capacity. It pretty much triples the number of seats long-distance to the North of England.”[73]

Connection to other lines[edit]

Diagrammatic map showing the planned High speed rail network in Great Britain with proposed "Classic Compatible" rail routes extending to other parts of Britain[74]

Existing main lines[edit]

A key feature of the HS2 proposals is that the new lines will include connections to existing, standard-speed classic main lines. It is proposed that these connections will allow the running of special "classic compatible" trains which are capable of operating on both high-speed lines (at the same speed as "captive" trains) and on "classic" lines at speeds of 200 km/h (120 mph) or below.[citation needed] This will enable trains to run to destinations served only by slower classic tracks, such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Newcastle, using a combination of slower "classic" and faster "high-speed" track. As HS2 trains are non-tilting they will be slower than existing tilting trains on some sections of classic tracks. The proposed connections will be at junctions on the phase-2 network at the following locations:[74]

West Coast Main Line[74]
East Coast Main Line

High Speed 1[edit]

Map showing the proposed HS1–HS2 link across Camden, as proposed in 2010

The Department for Transport initially outlined plans to build a two-kilometre-long (1.2 mi) link between HS2 and the existing High Speed 1 line that connects London to the Channel Tunnel. At their closest points, the two high-speed lines will be only 640 m (0.4 mi) apart. This connection would have enabled rail services running from Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham to bypass London Euston and to run directly to Paris, Brussels and other continental European destinations, realising the aims of the Regional Eurostar scheme that was first proposed in the 1980s.[75][76] Several schemes were considered, and the route finally put forward was a tunnel between Old Oak Common and Chalk Farm, linked to existing "classic speed" lines along the North London Line which would connect to HS1 north of St Pancras.[77][78][79][80]

Concerns were raised by Camden London Borough Council about the impact on housing, Camden Market and other local businesses from construction work and bridge widening along the proposed railway link.[81][82] Alternative schemes were considered, including boring a tunnel under Camden,[83] but the HS1-HS2 link was removed from the parliamentary bill at the second reading stage in order to save £700 million from the budget.[84]


Transport for the North (TfN) proposed a west to east four-track trans-Pennine railway line, HS3, that would link with the HS2 line to London, and a new Liverpool–Manchester airport–Manchester railway line also linked to HS2. In March 2016 The National Infrastructure Commission's report, "High Speed North", recommended collaboration between TfN and HS2 Ltd. on the design of the northern parts of HS2. Some redesigning would be needed of HS2 to link into HS3.[85] The HS3 rail link was given the go-ahead in the March 2016 budget.[86] The Institute of Public Policy Research on 8 August 2016 urged the government to prioritise HS3 over HS2.[87]

The Northern sections of HS2 either side of the Pennines are open to amendments to accommodate HS3 (NPR). The House of Commons HS2 briefing paper states: "It is important to note at this juncture that NPR now goes beyond the single trans-Pennine line originally designated HS3 and is now generally used to refer to the wider programme of strategic rail projects across the North. Therefore when the Government, TfN and others talk of integration between HS2 and NPR they are not only talking about closing that trans-Pennine link between the HS2 termini in Leeds and Manchester but about other linkages across the north."[48]

Sir David Higgins, head of HS2 explained the collaboration between HS3 and HS2 in a Parliamentary Select Committee in December 2016. He stated: "They [TfN] are a separate body. They are resourced with a separate budget, of course, provided by the Department. They have an executive team. We are a visitor, an attendee, on their board so we know all their plans and what is going on. We have been commissioned to do work by Transport for the North and the Department on the options for more capacity and a higher speed connection between Liverpool and Manchester. We have done all that work for them. There are two options. There is a northern route and a southern route in addition to the existing lines that go between Manchester and Liverpool. We have done the design work on that to show how you could use the Golborne link or the southern link of the existing high-speed line into Piccadilly as part of connecting the airport through Liverpool and Manchester Piccadilly. In the end, it is up to the political body."[88]


After leaving Euston, some HS2 services are planned to connect with Crossrail (opening 2018) at Old Oak Common.[89]

Crossrail 2[edit]

TfL have considered proposals to modify the route options for the planned north–south Crossrail 2 line, so that the route could potentially incorporate a direct link between HS1 and HS2. This could be achieved by routing Crossrail 2 via Euston and St Pancras stations, the termini for the two high-speed rail lines. However, it is thought that the introduction of both HS2 and Crossrail 2 at Euston will cause capacity problems due to the additional passenger demand.[89]


The Department for Transport initially estimated the cost to be £30 billion to be funded by the government with the Manchester Airport station locally funded. The Manchester airport station is to be separately funded by the airport and the wider region.[90] Cost estimates have gradually risen since the first figures were released. The City of Liverpool, omitted from direct HS2 access, may add a third source of funding. In March 2016 the city offered £6 billion to fund a link from the city to the HS2 backbone 20 miles (32 kilometres) away.[91] It has received some funding from the European Union's Connecting Europe Facility.[92]

The first 190-kilometre (120 mi) section, from London to Birmingham, was originally costed at between £15.8 and £17.4 billion,[93] and the entire Y-shaped 540-kilometre (335 mi) network at £30 billion.[93]

Upgrading existing lines from London to Birmingham instead of building HS2 would cost more (£20 billion) and would provide only two-thirds the extra capacity of HS2, according to Lord Adonis.[94]

In June 2013 the projected cost rose by £10 billion to £42.6 billion[95] and, less than a week later, it was revealed that the DfT had been using an outdated model to estimate the productivity increases associated with the railway.[96] Peter Mandelson, a key advocate when a study was undertaken of HS2 when the Labour Party was in government, declared shortly thereafter that HS2 would be an "expensive mistake",[97] and also admitted that the inception of HS2 was "politically driven" to "paint an upbeat view of the future" following the financial crash of 2008. He further admitted that the original cost estimates were "almost entirely speculative" and that "[p]erhaps the most glaring gap in the analysis presented to us at the time were the alternative ways of spending £30bn."[98] The then mayor of London, Boris Johnson, similarly warned that the costs of the scheme would be in excess of £70 billion.[99] The Institute of Economic Affairs estimates that the final cost will be over £80 billion.[100]

The link between HS1 and HS2 was dropped on cost grounds.[101] In April 2016 Sir Jeremy Heywood, a top UK civil servant, was reviewing the HS2 project to trim costs and gauge whether the now £55 billion project could be kept within budget.[102][103]

Political support[edit]

High-speed rail is officially supported by the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, and opposed by the UK Independence Party and Green Party. Some[who?] Conservative including Liam Fox, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians do not support their party line, and oppose the HS2 scheme in detail; some support proposals for alternative routes; and some reject the whole principle of high-speed rail. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called for a rethink over the HS2 terminus at Euston preferring Old Oak Common as the London terminus.[104][105]The Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government formed in May 2010 stated in its initial programme for government its commitment to creating a high-speed rail network.[106]

Journey times[edit]

From London[edit]

To HS2 stations[edit]

The DfT's latest revised estimates of journey times for some major destinations once the line has been built as far as Leeds and Manchester, set out in the January 2012 document High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain's Future – Decisions and Next Steps, are as follows:[107] Times given for Manchester and Leeds are for trains via Birmingham: until Phase 2 almost all trains from these cities to/from London will continue to use direct 'classic' lines.

London to/from Standard journey time before HS2 Fastest journey time before HS2 Standard journey time after HS2 Phase One [108] Standard journey time after HS2 Phase 2
Birmingham 1:24 1:13[t 1] 0:49 no change
Manchester 2:08 2:00[t 2] 1:40 1:08
Leeds 2:20 1:59[t 3] no change 1:28
  1. ^ Birmingham: one train per day, in one direction only: 07:30 New Street-08:43 Euston
  2. ^ Manchester: one train per day, in one direction only: 07:00 Piccadilly-09:00 Euston
  3. ^ Leeds: one train per day, in one direction only: 07:00 Leeds-08:59 King's Cross

To other stations[edit]

London to/from Standard journey time before HS2 Standard journey time after HS2 Phase 2[109]
East Midlands Hub N/A 0:51
Nottingham 1:44 1:08
Derby 1:31 1:11
Sheffield 2:05 1:19
York 1:53 1:23
Newcastle 2:52 2:19
Crewe 1:30 0:55
Preston 2:08 1:24
Liverpool 2:08 1:36
Glasgow 4:32 3:38

From Birmingham[edit]

Birmingham to/from Standard journey time before HS2 Standard journey time after HS2 Phase 2[109]
East Midlands Hub N/A 0:19
Nottingham 1:13 0:36
Sheffield 1:11 0:48
Leeds 1:58 0:57
York 2:10 1:03
Newcastle 3:14 2:07
Manchester Airport 1:44 0:32
Manchester 1:28 0:41
Preston 1:31 0:53
Edinburgh 4:01 3:14
Glasgow 4:08 3:38

Planned stations[edit]

London and Birmingham[edit]

Euston Terminus, also showing nearby terminus of High Speed 1 at St Pancras

Central London[edit]

Under the March 2010 scheme, HS2 will start from a rebuilt London Euston. The station will be extended to the south and west with significant construction above. Twenty-four platforms will serve High Speed and classic lines to the Midlands, with six underground lines. The connection with Crossrail at Old Oak Common in West London is designed to mitigate the extra burden on Euston, although Euston too would see its underground station rebuilt and integrated with Euston Square.[110][111] A rapid transit "people mover" link between Euston and St Pancras might be provided[112] and it is proposed to route the proposed Crossrail 2 (Chelsea–Hackney line) via Euston to cope with increased passenger demand.[113][114]

A review by Lord Mawhinney suggested that HS2 should terminate at Old Oak Common, not Euston.[115] He questioned the sense of HS2 terminating at Euston, with HS1 at St Pancras and no through running connection between them.[115] The plans proposed a link via an upgraded section of the North London Line to enable three trains per hour to run through to High Speed 1 and towards the Channel Tunnel, bypassing Euston.[110]

West London[edit]

Crossrail Interchange in west London

A report published in March 2010 proposed that all trains would stop at a "Crossrail interchange" near Old Oak Common, between Paddington and Acton Main Line, with connections for Crossrail, Heathrow Express, and the Great Western Main Line to Heathrow Airport, Reading, South West England and South Wales. The station might also have interchange with London Overground and Southern on the North London and West London Lines and also with London Underground's Central line.[116]

Mawhinney recommended that HS2 should terminate at Old Oak Common because of its good connections and to save the cost of tunnelling to Euston.[115] The HS2 route published on 10 January 2012 included stations at both Euston and Old Oak Common.[117]

Birmingham Interchange[edit]

The proposed "Birmingham Interchange"

The March 2010 report proposed that a new "Birmingham Interchange" station in rural Solihull, on the other side of the M42 motorway from the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham International Airport and Birmingham International Station.[118] The interchange will be connected by a people mover to the other sites; the AirRail Link people mover already operates between Birmingham International station and the airport.

According to Birmingham Airport's chief executive Paul Kehoe, HS2 is a key element in increasing the number of flights using the airport, and patronage by inhabitants of London and the South-East, as HS2 will reduce travelling times to Birmingham Airport from London to under 40 minutes.[119]

Birmingham city centre[edit]

Proposed layout for Curzon Street Station

New Street station, the main station serving central Birmingham, has been described as operating at full capacity and being unable to accommodate new high-speed services.[citation needed] A new terminus for HS2, termed "Birmingham Curzon Street" in the government's command paper[120] and "Birmingham Fazeley Street" in the report produced by High Speed 2 Ltd, would be built on land between Moor Street Queensway and the site of Curzon Street Station. It would be reached via a spur line from a triangular junction with the HS2 main line at Coleshill.[121]

There are no plans for the Curzon Street/Fazeley Street terminus to be used by other rail services, but the station would be adjacent to Moor Street station and could be directly linked. A link to New Street station via a people mover with a journey time of two minutes is possible.[122] The walking route between New Street and Moor Street has been considered in the redevelopment of New Street station, which will have a new footbridge at its east entrance.[123] The other city-centre station, Snow Hill, is just a couple of minutes' train journey from Moor Street station.

Development planning for the Fazeley Street quarter of Birmingham has changed as a result of HS2. Prior to announcement of the HS2 station, Birmingham City University had planned to build a new campus in Eastside.[124][125] The proposed Eastside development will now include a new museum quarter, with the original stone Curzon Street station building becoming a new museum of photography, fronting on to a new Curzon Square, which will also be home to Ikon 2, a museum of contemporary art.[126]

In addition, the Government proposes that there will be a depot at Washwood Heath, where 30 homes will be demolished to enable the development.[127]

Birmingham to Manchester (Phases 2a and 2b)[edit]

Proposals for the station locations were announced on 28 January 2013.

Birmingham to Crewe (phase 2a)[edit]

HS2 will pass through Staffordshire and Cheshire. The line will run in a tunnel under the Crewe junction by-passing the station.[128] However, the HS2 line will be linked to the West Coast Main Line via a grade-separated junction just south of Crewe, enabling "classic compatible" trains exiting the high-speed line to call at the existing Crewe station.[35][129] In 2014, the chairman of HS2 advocated a dedicated hub station in Crewe.[130] In November 2015 it was announced that the Crewe hub completion would be brought forward to 2027.[131] In November 2017 the government and Network Rail supported a proposal to build the hub station on the existing station site, with a junction onto the West Coast Main Line north of the station. This will enable through trains to bypass the station via a tunnel under the station and run directly onto the WCML.[132]

Manchester Airport (phase 2b)[edit]

The proposed Manchester airport station[133]

A HS2 station at Manchester Airport was recommended in 2013 by local authorities during the consultation stage.[134][135] The government agreed in January 2013 to an airport station, however agreed only on the basis that private investment was involved in its construction, such as funding from the Manchester Airports Group.

The station is provisionally named Manchester Interchange, being located to the south of the city of Manchester, to the west of the M56 motorway at junction 5 on the north western side of the airport. The proposed sub-surface stand alone station would consist of two platforms along with a pair of through tracks for trains to pass through the station without stopping. The station will not be integrated with the existing Manchester Airport railway station,[citation needed] being approximately 2.4 km (1.5 mi) north-west of it. Current proposals do not detail passenger interchange methods, however do indicate that various options are being considered to integrate the new station with existing transport networks, including extending the Manchester Metrolink tram line to serve the HS2 station directly.[136][137][138] If the station is built, it is estimated that the average journey time from London Euston to Manchester Airport would be 59 minutes.[139]

Manchester city centre (phase 2b)[edit]

Map of the proposed extension of Manchester Piccadilly station

The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 12.1-kilometre (7.5 mi) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick.[140][141][142] If built, it will represent one of the major engineering feats of HS2 and will be the longest rail tunnel to be built in the United Kingdom, surpassing the 10.0-kilometre (6.2 mi) High Speed 1 tunnel completed in 2004.[143] The 12.2 km (7.6 mi) twin-bore tunnel will be at an average depth of 33 m (108 ft) and trains will travel through it at 228 kilometres per hour (142 mph). The diameter of the tunnel is dependent on the train speed and length of the tunnel.[144] It is envisaged both tunnels will be, as an "absolute minimum", at least 7.25 metres (23 ft 9 in) in diameter to accommodate the high-speed trains.[145]

Up to 15 sites were put forward, including Sportcity, Pomona Island, expanding Deansgate railway station and re-configuring the grade-II listed Manchester Central into a station.[146] Three final sites made the long list: Manchester Piccadilly station, Salford Central station and a newly built station at Salford Middlewood Locks.[147] Three approaches were considered, one via the M62, one via the River Mersey and the other through south Manchester. Both Manchester and Salford city councils recommended routing High Speed 2 to Manchester Piccadilly, although the station throat faces south-east away from the incoming HS2 line, to maximise economic potential and connectivity rather than building a new station at a greater cost and which could be isolated from existing transport links.[148]

HS2 will terminate at an upgraded Manchester Piccadilly station.[128] At least four new 400-metre-long (1,300 ft) platforms will be built to accommodate the new high-speed trains in addition to the two platforms which are currently planned as part of the Northern Hub proposal.[135] It is envisaged Platform 1 under the existing listed train shed will also be converted to a fifth HS2 platform. The HS2 concourse will be connected to the existing concourse at Piccadilly. HS2 will reduce the average journey time from central Manchester to central London from 2 hours 8 minutes to 1 hour 8 minutes.

Birmingham to Leeds (Phase 2b)[edit]

HS2 will reduce the average journey time from central Leeds to London from 2 hours 20 minutes to 1 hour 28 minutes.

East Midlands Hub[edit]

Map of the proposed new station in the East Midlands

HS2, to serve the East Midlands has planned a new station named the East Midlands Hub located at Toton sidings west of Nottingham. The station would be an out of town parkway station,[note 1] serving the cities of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.[149] The Derbyshire and Nottingham Chamber of Commerce supports high-speed rail serving the East Midlands, however was concerned that a parkway station instead of centrally located stations in each of the three cities would result in no overall net benefit in journey times.[149] Their concerns are based on the East Midlands Parkway railway station that was recently constructed on the Midland Main Line south of Derby and Nottingham, close to the proposed HS2 site in Toton, which is failing to reach its passenger targets by a substantial margin.[150]


HS2 would continue north to a station in Sheffield city centre, serving Sheffield and surrounding large towns such as Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster and Chesterfield via connecting trains from the existing city centre railway station. There are also plans for the construction of a new Sheffield Supertram light rail line from Meadowhall Interchange to the Dore area in the south-west of the city to tie in with the HS2 plans.

Initially there were plans for a Sheffield Meadowhall HS2 station, located close to the existing Meadowhall Interchange. However, the route recommended by HS2 Ltd was changed on 7 July 2016 to allow for the construction of a city centre station instead. The proposed city centre station would, according to Sheffield City Council, generate up to £5 billion more for the local economy than a station at Meadowhall, whilst also increasing the station's usage and creating around 6,500 extra jobs, while a Meadowhall station would cause problems with road congestion and fail to cut journey times.[151]


A graphical mockup showing how new HS2 platforms (blue) will be joined to the existing Leeds station platforms (pink).

HS2 would then continue north from Sheffield city centre through West Yorkshire toward York, with a spur taking the line into Leeds. It was originally proposed that a separate HS2 station – Leeds New Lane – would be built.[34] However, a later review decided that greater benefits would be obtained by bringing HS2 to the existing Leeds station. HS2 platforms will be built onto the Southern side of the station building creating a common concourse for easy interchange between high speed and classic rail services.[33]



The Department for Transport report on High Speed Rail published in March 2010 sets out the specifications for a high-speed line. It will be built to a European structure gauge (as was HS1) and will conform to European Union technical standards for interoperability for high-speed rail[152] (EU Directive 96/48/EC). HS2 Ltd's report assumed a GC structure gauge for passenger capacity estimations,[153] with a maximum design speed of 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph).[2] Initially, trains would run at a maximum speed of 360 kilometres per hour (225 mph).[154]

The new line would release capacity for freight and more local, regional and commuter services and new direct services on both the West Coast Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line.[155]

Signalling would be based on the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) with in-cab signalling, to resolve the visibility issues associated with lineside signals at speeds over 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph).

Platform height will be at the European standard of 760 millimetres (2 ft 6 in).[156]

Rolling stock[edit]

A 2008 Alstom AGV, an example European-profile high-speed train
British Rail Class 373, an existing example of a high-speed train compatible with British and Continental loading gauges (not specified for HS2)

The rolling stock for HS2 has not yet been specified in any detail. Bidding for the contract to design and build the trains was opened in 2017 and is expected to be awarded in 2019. There will be 60 trains for Phase One, each capable of seating 1,000 passengers. [157]

The 2010 DfT government command paper outlined some requirements for the train design among its recommendations for design standards for the HS2 network. A photograph of a French AGV (Automotrice à grande vitesse) was used as an example of the latest high-speed rail technology. The paper addressed the particular problem of designing trains to continental European standards, which use taller and wider rolling stock, requiring a larger structure gauge than the rail network in Great Britain.

The report proposed the development of two new types of train to make best use of the line:[154]

  • Wider and taller trains built to a European loading gauge, which would be confined to the high-speed network (including HS1 and HS2) and other lines cleared to their loading gauge.
  • 'Classic compatible' trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge to permit them to leave the high-speed line to join conventional classic routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line.[note 2] Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought "off-the-shelf", these classic-compatible trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.[158]

Both types of train would have a maximum speed of at least 350 km/h (220 mph) and length of 200 metres (660 ft). Two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train.[154] It has been reported that these longer trains would have approximately 1,100 seats with Andrew McNaughton, technical director of HS2 stating "family areas will alleviate the stress of parents worried that their children are annoying other passengers who are maybe trying to work."[159]

The DfT report also considered the possibility of 'gauge clearance' work on non-high-speed lines as an alternative to 'classic compatible' trains. This work would involve extensive reconstruction of stations, tunnels and bridges and widening of clearances to allow European-profile trains to run beyond the high-speed network. The report concluded that although initial outlay on commissioning new rolling stock would be high, it would cost less than the widespread disruption of rebuilding large tracts of Britain's rail infrastructure.[154]

Running costs[edit]

The estimated cost of power for running HS2 trains is as follows[160]

Traction power costs
Costs (£/km travelled)
Captive (200 m)
Classic compatible (200 m)
Classic compatible (260 m)
On HS2 3.90 3.90 5.00
On classic network n/a 2.00 2.60

Maintenance depot[edit]

In April 2010 Arup was asked to develop proposals for the location, engineering specification and site layout of the Infrastructure Maintenance Depot (IMD). The general location of the IMD was identified as adjacent to, or within 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) of the intersection of HS2 and the East West Rail (EWR) route near Steeple Claydon/Calvert in Buckinghamshire. The feasibility of using the MoD site at Bicester as the IMD was also considered. Six potential sites were shortlisted and rated against the specification. The preferred site, called 'Thame Road' (at Claydon Junction), and a fall-back site, 'Great Pond' were announced in December 2010.[161] The nearby Calvert Waste Plant has also been identified for heat and power generation.[161]


New political and financial dynamics[edit]

Until the start of the Great Recession, high-speed rail did not feature high among the priorities of British policy makers and institutional investors: “Britain’s best rail transport network, the High-Speed 1 line (HS1 or ‘Channel Tunnel Rail Link’) connecting the country to Paris, [is] a strategic infrastructure asset designed by French engineers, and owned and operated by Canadian pension funds.”[162] However, policy attitudes towards modern transport infrastructure started to change in the early 2010s, notably with renewed interest for the notion of UK pension investment in domestic infrastructure projects jointly with the state.[163]

Government rationale[edit]

A 2008 paper, 'Delivering a Sustainable Transport System'[164] identified fourteen strategic national transport corridors in England, and described the London – West Midlands – North West England route as the "single most important and heavily used" and also as the one which presented "both the greatest challenges in terms of future capacity and the greatest opportunities to promote a shift of passenger and freight traffic from road to rail".[165] They noted that railway passenger numbers had been growing significantly in recent years, doubling from 1995 to 2015[166] and that the Rugby – Euston section was already operating at up to 80% of capacity in the 2009 morning peak,[dubious ][167] also that the DfT expected the WCML to have insufficient capacity south of Rugby some time around 2025.[168] This is despite the major WCML upgrade, which was completed in 2008, lengthened trains and an assumption that plans to upgrade the route with cab signalling would be realised.[169]

According to the DfT, the primary purpose of HS2 is to provide additional capacity on the rail network from London to the Midlands and North.[170] It says the new line "would improve rail services from London to cities in the North of England and Scotland,[171] and that the chosen route to the west of London will improve passenger transport links to Heathrow Airport".[172] Additionally, if the new line were connected to the Great Western Main Line (GWML) and Crossrail, it would provide links with East and West London, and the Thames Valley.[173]

In launching the project, the DfT announced that HS2 between London and the West Midlands would follow a different alignment from the WCML, rejecting the option of further upgrading or building new tracks alongside the WCML as being too costly and disruptive, and because the Victorian-era WCML alignment was not suitable for very high speeds.[174]

In October 2016, Andrew Jones, a transport minister, suggested renaming HS2 as the 'Grand Union Railway', not to be confused with the Grand Junction Railway (today the West Coast Main Line). His reasoning for this was because HS2 is not about speed and is more about connectivity.[71] There is currently no firm proposal for this name and HS2 remains to be called HS2 or High Speed 2.

The Government expects that over the next 30 years, HS2 will cost £32 billion to build, provide £43.7 billion of economic benefits and generate £27 billion in fares.[175]


Organisations that support the HS2 project include:


"Stop HS2” signs are frequently erected by opposition groups in areas close to the planned HS2 route

High Speed 2 is opposed by:

  • The 51m group, which consists of 19 local authorities along or adjacent to the route. It suggests the project will cost each Parliamentary Constituency £51 million.[187] Constituent members of 51m include Buckinghamshire County Council,[188] London Borough of Hillingdon,[189] Warwickshire County Council,[190] Leicestershire County Council,[191] Oxfordshire County Council,[192] Coventry City Council[193] and Camden Borough Council.[194] The other councils that have declared their opposition are Northamptonshire[195] and Staffordshire[196] County Councils.
  • StopHS2, which represents local action groups along the route.[197][198]
  • The HS2 Action Alliance,[199] an umbrella group for opposition groups[200] including ad hoc entities, residents' associations, and parish councils.[201] The Alliance's primary aim is to prevent HS2 from happening; secondary aims include evaluating and minimising the impacts of HS2 on individuals, communities and the environment, and communication of facts about HS2, and its compensation scheme.[199] Even after the latest changes made to the scheme to mitigate concerns, it continues to be opposed by some MPs and personalities on the line of route.[202] A member[who?] of the 'HS2 Action Alliance' has criticised the Department of Transport's demand forecasts as being too high, as well as having other shortcomings in the assessment methodology.[203][204]
  • The UK Independence Party (UKIP), which is fully opposed nationally and locally to the proposed HS2 plans. UKIP says there is no business case, no environment case and no money to pay for it.[205] UKIP has been campaigning against HS2 as it is also part of the EU's Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Policy. It had previously proposed a much larger and more expensive three-line high-speed network running from London to Newcastle (and on to Scotland), London to Bristol (and on to Wales) and London to Birmingham along with upgrading several other sections of the WCML and Scottish rail to high speed in its 2010 manifesto.[206]
  • The Green Party, which voted to oppose the HS2 plans at its Spring 2011 conference on environmental and economic grounds.[207] Alan Francis, the party transport spokesperson, had previously outlined its support for high-speed rail in principle in terms of benefits to capacity, reduced journey times and reduced carbon emissions, but recommended a line restricted to 300 to 320 kilometres per hour (190 to 200 mph) which would enable it to use existing transport corridors to a greater extent and increase efficiency.[208]
  • The New Economics Foundation, a think-tank promoting environmentalism, localism and anti-capitalism. It published a formal response to the public consultation in August 2011[209] which concluded that the case for a high-speed rail link was incomplete and that the benefits of the scheme had been "over-emphasised" by its promoters.[210]
  • The Taxpayers Alliance, an anti-tax pressure group, which describes the project as a white elephant.[211][212]
  • The Independent newspaper, which considers the costs excessive and the benefits uncertain.[213] An investigation published in February 2013 claimed that 350 wildlife sites would be destroyed by the new HS2 line[214] and an accompanying editorial argued that environmentalists should oppose the project.[215] A separate investigation published in March 2013 suggests that the project was unlikely to keep within its £33 billion budget.[216]
  • Lord Mandelson, a supporter of HS2 when in office, admitted in July 2013 that the cost estimates were "almost entirely speculative" and said the Labour Government had only proposed it to "paint an upbeat view of the future" during the financial crash.[217]
  • Alistair Darling, former Labour chancellor and transport secretary, withdrew support for the project, stating to go ahead would be "foolish".[218]
  • Boris Johnson, the ex Mayor of London, repeatedly criticised the project, and stated that the costs would spiral over £70 billion.[219][220] His father Stanley Johnson was required to sell his home in Primrose Hill under the HS2 "need to sell scheme" as it was 10 metres (33 feet) from the new track.[221]
  • Liam Fox a candidate for the Conservative Party leadership in July 2016, stated he would scrap the HS2 project if he became prime minister.[222]


Organisations with noncommittal, ambiguous or dissatisfied positions include:

  • 20MM (Twenty Miles More). A campaign group based in Liverpool with the aim to extend HS2 track an extra 20 miles (30 km) into the city to give a full high-speed rail service into the city centre and free existing classic lines for freight from the expanded Port of Liverpool.[223]
  • The Right Lines Charter, an umbrella group established in 2011 for several environmental and other organisations that support the principle of a high-speed rail network but believe that the current HS2 scheme is unsound. Members include the Campaign for Better Transport,[224] the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth,[225] Greenpeace, and Railfuture.[226]
  • Arup, which did the engineering work to identify routes for HS2 Ltd., has opposed the chosen route for HS2 (route 3) calling it "deeply flawed"[227] It says the route should link to Heathrow and then follow the M40 motorway and Chiltern railway line (M40 corridor), improving the business case, lowering construction costs and creating less impact on the countryside.[228]
  • Railfuture, a railway campaigning organisation, which supports high-speed rail in principle, but stated in its submission to the Transport Select Committee Inquiry that it sees no benefit in trains running at up to 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph) and therefore is not in favour of the current proposal and route, and suggests that alternatives be investigated.[229]
  • The Campaign to Protect Rural England,[230] which believes that lower speeds would increase journey times only slightly, while allowing the line to run along existing motorway and railway corridors, reducing intrusion.[230]
  • The Woodland Trust opposes the current route of the proposed High Speed 2 rail link because of its impact on ancient woodland. It reports that 33 ancient woods – areas continuously wooded since 1600 – face destruction, with 34 more indirectly at risk from disturbance, noise and pollution.[231]
  • The Wildlife Trusts, which have criticised the proposals, stating that the former Government's policy on High Speed Rail (March 2010) underestimated the effect on wildlife habitats (with 4 SSSIs and over 50 of other types of nature site affected), as well as noting that the proposals had not comprehensively shown any significant effect on transport carbon emissions and questioning the economic benefits of a line. The trusts called for additional research to be done on the effects of a high-speed line.[232]
  • The Federation of Small Businesses, which has expressed scepticism over the need for high-speed rail, stating that roads expenditure was more useful for its members.[233]
  • The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, which opined that HS2 offered no benefit to its area.[234]
  • Derby City Council was disappointed at the chosen location for the East Midlands Hub station in Toton, preferring a route that would make use of the existing Derby railway station.[235] These plans are opposed by Derbyshire County Council,[236] Nottingham City Council,[237] and Rushcliffe Borough Council.[238]
  • The National Trust[239]
  • The Commons Transport Committee, which in November 2011 reported that the scheme had "a good case" and offered "a new era of inter-urban travel in Britain."[240] However, it also said there should be a firm commitment made now to extend the line to Manchester and Leeds and that other investment in rail should not suffer, and noted a poor level of public debate which had failed to address the facts and had resorted to name-calling and accusations of nimbyism.[241] While questioning some data, it found a good economic case for the project bringing more benefits than a conventional classic rail line, that the noise impact would be less than feared and that while it would not reduce carbon dioxide emissions they would be smaller than under further motorway or air traffic expansion and that the business case for diverting via Heathrow had not been made. The report's findings were welcomed by the Association of Train Operating Companies, the Campaign for Better Transport, the Countryside Alliance and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Action Groups Against High Speed Two (AGHAST) condemned the authors as a 'partisan committee' though they welcomed some of the findings, saying it poked holes in the Government's arguments.

Community engagement[edit]

HS2 Ltd announced in March 2012 that it will conduct consultations with local people and organisations along the London to West Midlands route through community forums, planning forums and an environment forum. Between them the forums will discuss the development of the route, the identification of potential impacts and look at the best approaches to mitigate these.[242] HS2 has also confirmed that the consultations will be conducted in line with the terms of the Aarhus Convention which commits organisations to provide access to environmental information they hold, and enable participation and challenge as part of decision making processes.[243]

Community forums[edit]

HS2 Ltd set up 25 community forums along Phase One in March 2012. The forums provide for representatives of local authorities, residents associations, special interest groups and environment bodies in each community forum area to 'engage' with HS2 Ltd to:- "discuss potential ways to avoid and mitigate the environmental impacts of the route, such as screening views of the railway; managing noise and reinstating highways; highlight local priorities for the route design; identify possible community benefits."[244] Forum meetings will take place every 2–3 months and will have an independent chairman appointed by HS2.

Planning forums[edit]

Six planning forums aligned to local council boundaries along Phase One of the route were announced by HS2 in April 2012. Membership would comprise HS2 Ltd and officers from highway and planning authorities. Meeting every two months, their particular focus would include, location specific constraints, design and impacts, including construction; spatial planning considerations; the planning regime to be set out in the hybrid bill; and proposals for mitigations.[245]

Environment forum[edit]

An environment forum involving HS2 Ltd and national representatives of environmental organisations and government departments has been formed to assist with the development of the HS2 environmental policy.[246]

Environmental and community impact[edit]

The HS2 route will pass through areas such as this landscape at Wendover Dean in the Chiltern Hills[247]

Visual impact[edit]

The visual impact of HS2 has received particular attention in the Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[248] The Government announced in January 2011 that two million trees would be planted along sections of the route to mitigate the visual impact.[249]

Property demolition and land take[edit]

Phase One will result in the demolition of more than 400 houses; 250 around Euston station, 20–30 between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip, a number in Ealing, around 50 in Birmingham, and the remainder in pockets along the route.[250] No Grade I or Grade II* listed buildings will be demolished, but six Grade II listed buildings will be, with alterations to four and removal and relocation of eight.[251]

In Birmingham, the new Curzon Gate student residence will be demolished[252] and Birmingham City University wanted a £30 million refund after the plans were revealed.[124]

Ancient Woodland impact[edit]

High Speed Rail: woods, trees and wildlife published by Woodland Trust claims that 98[253] ancient woodlands will be severely damaged or are threatened with total loss due to HS2, with 34 more near enough to suffer secondary effects from disturbance, noise and pollution. Ancient woods are areas that have been continuously wooded since at least 1600 and are the UK's richest land-based habitat. These ancient woods under threat have had relatively little disturbance over centuries and have therefore developed complex and diverse ecological communities of plants and animals. Only 2% of the UK is covered in ancient woodland and ancient woods are home to 256 species of conservation concern.[254]

Loss of wildlife habitat, and recreation space[edit]

David Lidington, MP for Aylesbury, raised concerns that the route could damage the 47 kilometres (29 mi)-wide Chiltern Hills area of outstanding natural beauty, the Colne Valley regional park on the outskirts of London, and other areas of green belt.[255]

The route passes through the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire via the Misbourne Valley. Initially through a tunnel beneath Chalfont St Giles[256] emerging just after Amersham, then past Wendover and Stoke Mandeville.[257] Its proposals include a re-alignment of more than 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of the River Tame, and construction of a 0.63 km (0.39 mi) viaduct and a cutting[258] through ancient woodland at a nature reserve at Park Hall on the edge of Birmingham.[259]

Carbon emissions[edit]

In 2007 the DfT commissioned a report, Estimated Carbon Impact of a New North South Line, from Booz Allen Hamilton to investigate the likely overall carbon impact associated with the construction and operation of a new rail line to either Manchester or Scotland including the extent of carbon reduction or increase from population shift to rail use, and the comparison with the case in which no new high-speed lines were built.[260] The report concluded that there was no net carbon benefit in the foreseeable future taking only the route to Manchester. Additional carbon from building a new rail route would be larger in the first ten years at least than a model were no new rail line was built.[261]

The High Speed Rail Command paper published in March 2010 stated that the project was likely to be roughly carbon neutral.[262]

The Eddington Report cautioned against the common argument of modal shift from aviation to high-speed rail as a carbon-emissions benefit, since only 1.2% of UK carbon emissions are due to domestic commercial aviation, and since rail transport energy efficiency is reduced as speed increases.[263]

The 2007 Government White Paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway stated trains that travel at a speed of 350 kilometres per hour (220 mph) used 90% more energy than at 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph);[264] which would result in carbon emissions for a London to Edinburgh journey of approximately 14 kilograms (31 lb) per passenger for high-speed rail compared to 7 kilograms (15 lb) per passenger for conventional classic rail. Air travel uses 26 kilograms (57 lb) per passenger for the same journey. The paper questioned the value for money of high-speed rail as a method of reducing carbon emissions, but noted that with a switch to carbon-free or neutral energy production the case becomes much more favourable.[264]

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee Report in November 2011 (paragraph 77) concluded that the Government's claim that HS2 would have substantial carbon reduction benefits did not stand up to scrutiny. At best, the Select Committee found, HS2 could make a small contribution to the Government's carbon-reduction targets. However this was dependent on the government making rapid progress on reducing carbon emissions from UK electricity generation.[16]


HS2 Ltd stated that 21,300 dwellings could experience a noticeable increase in rail noise and 200 non-residential receptors (community, education, healthcare, and recreational/social facilities) within 300 metres (980 ft) of the preferred route have the potential to experience significant noise impacts.[250] The Government has announced that trees planted to create a visual barrier will reduce noise pollution.[249]

Geology and water supply[edit]

Research presented by Dr Haydon Bailey, geological adviser to the Chiltern Society, showed that HS2 tunnelling could cause long-term damage to the chalk aquifer system responsible for water supply for the North Western Home Counties and North London.[265]


From the beginning of the HS2 consultation period, the government has factored in several plans to compensate people who will or may be affected. Once original plans had been released in 2010, the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) was set up, however this was at the government's discretion and Phase One came to an end on 17 June 2010. With EHS Phase 2 running throughout 2013. Both EHS are intended to compensate homeowners who have difficulty selling their home because of the HS2 route announcement, to protecting those whose property value may be seriously affected by the 'preferred route option' and who urgently need to sell.[266]

Exceptional Hardship Scheme criteria[edit]

With Phase One applications intended to run from about August 2010 until the route was chosen in 2012 and Phase 2 throughout 2013; homeowners are/were advised to apply to the Secretary of State to buy their home, as long as all of the following criteria are met:

  1. Residential owner-occupier.
  2. Pressing need to sell. This means a change in employment location, extreme financial pressure, to accommodate enlarged family, move into sheltered accommodation, or medical condition of a family member.
  3. On or in 'close vicinity' of the 'preferred route' (that is mainly those who will later on be covered by statutory blight provisions).
  4. Have tried to sell – been on the market for at least three months with no offers within 15% of full market value (as if no HS2).
  5. Can demonstrate inability to sell is due to HS2.
  6. No knowledge of HS2 before acquiring the property.

Decisions on individual applications will be made by a panel of experts.[267]

Public consultations[edit]

Since the announcement of Phase One the government has had plans to create an overall 'Y shaped' line with termini in Manchester and Leeds. Since the intentions to further extend were announced an additional compensation scheme was set up.[268] Consultations with those affected were set up over late 2012 and January 2013, to allow homeowners to express their concerns within their local community.[269]

The results of the consultations are not yet known, but Alison Munro, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, has stated that it is also looking at other options, including property bonds.[270] The statutory blight regime would apply to any route confirmed for a new high-speed line following the public consultations, which took place between 2011 and January 2013.[271][269]

The government has said it plans to introduce a new discretionary hardship scheme to ensure the housing market along the route is not unduly disrupted.

HS2 Action Alliance's alternative compensation solution for property blight was presented to DfT/HS2 Ltd and Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, in response to the consultation on the EHS. The Alliance also presented DfT and HS2 Ltd with a pilot study on property blight.[272]

Political impact[edit]

The revision of the route through South Yorkshire, which replaced the original plans for a station at Meadowhall for an offline station at Sheffield was cited as a major reason for the collapse of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal; Sheffield City Council's successful lobbying for a city-centre station in opposition to Barnsley, Doncaster, and Rotherham's preference to the Meadowhall option caused Doncaster and Barnsley councils to seek an all-Yorkshire devolution deal instead.[273][274]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In British usage, a parkway station is one with car parking, remote from the location it is intended to serve
  2. ^ The British Rail Class 373 trains used by Eurostar are an example of a high-speed train that is compatible with French/Belgian high-speed lines and British lines.


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External links[edit]