High Speed 2

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High Speed 2
High Speed 2 logo.svg
UK High Speed 2 rail map.png
HS2 high-speed network
TypeHigh speed railway
SystemNational Rail
  • Under construction:
    • Phase 1 target date: 2029–33[1]
  • Planned:
    • Phase 2a target date: 2029-33
    • Phase 2b target date: 2035
TerminiLondon Euston
  • High-speed network
    • Phase 1: three
    • Phase 2a: one
    • Phase 2b: three
  • Total: 21
Websitewww.hs2.org.uk Edit this at Wikidata
Line length
  • Phases 1 and 2a: 155 miles (249 km)
  • Full network: 330 miles (530 km)
Number of tracksDouble track
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Loading gaugeUIC GC
Electrification25 kV AC overhead
Operating speed360 km/h (225 mph) maximum, but 330 km/h (205 mph) routinely.[1]
Schematic map

Manchester Metrolink Manchester Piccadilly
Manchester Metrolink Airport interchange Manchester Interchange
Sheffield Sheffield Supertram
East Midlands Hub Nottingham Express Transit
Phase 1
Phase 2
Phase 1
Phase 2
Midland Metro Birmingham New Street
Birmingham Curzon Street Midland Metro
Birmingham Moor Street
Airport interchange Birmingham International
Birmingham Interchange Parking
Old Oak Common Crossrail London Overground London Underground
London Underground London Overground Crossrail 2 Euston
pedestrian walkway to
St Pancras International London Underground Thameslink Eurostar

National Rail interchange with National Rail at all stations

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a partly planned high speed railway in the United Kingdom, with its first phase in the early stages of construction and future stages awaiting approval. Scheduled to open in phases between 2029 and 2035, HS2 will be the second major high-speed rail line in Britain; the first is High Speed 1 (HS1), which connects London to the Channel Tunnel and was opened in the mid-2000s.

Upon completion, the railway will link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds with a new "Y"-shaped network of 360 km/h (225 mph) tracks.[2] Branch lines serving Crewe and Sheffield will enable HS2 services to continue to destinations in northern England and Scotland on the existing conventional rail network via the West Coast Main Line and East Coast Main Line. This will allow locations such as Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle to be served by high-speed trains running on a combination of 125 mph (200 km/h) track and high-speed track.[3]

High Speed 2 will provide upgrades to the terminal stations of London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds, whereas Birmingham will be served by a new terminus known as Birmingham Curzon Street. The railway will also provide four new through stations: Old Oak Common in west London, to connect with Crossrail and the Overground; Birmingham Interchange in Solihull, to connect with Birmingham Airport and serve the National Exhibition Centre; Manchester Interchange in southern Manchester, to connect with Manchester Airport and Metrolink; and East Midlands Hub in Long Eaton which will serve Nottingham and Derby via the Nottingham Express Transit tram system.

The original plans further envisioned a high speed spur serving Heathrow Airport and a connection to HS1; both were removed to reduce costs. A station at Meadowhall on the outskirts of Sheffield—which would have connected with the adjacent M1 motorway, local rail services, and Supertram—was also planned, but removed in favour of the local government's proposal for a city-centre station

The motivation behind the project is to increase the capacity of the railway network to cope with increasing passenger numbers. By removing most express services from the existing railway, additional local services can run. A new high speed railway was found to be more cost-effective and less disruptive than upgrading the existing network. Improved connectivity is also hoped to have a positive economic impact, and that favourable journey times and ample capacity will generate modal shift from air and road to rail.[4]

In response to criticism of the financial and environmental sustainability of the project, in August 2019 the Government ordered a review of the project, chaired by the project's former chairman, Douglas Oakervee; its recommendations were published in February 2020. Oakervee recommended that the entire project proceed as planned, and called for a further review into the interoperability of Phase 2b with Northern Powerhouse Rail. In response, the government appointed a minister with overview for HS2, NPR, and the Transpennine upgrade projects.

Originally budgeted by Network Rail in 2010 between £30.9 billion and £36 billion, the project was first given a budget envelope of £42.6 billion (in 2011 prices) in 2013, with the rolling stock estimated to cost a further £7.5 billion. These costs were combined and adjusted for inflation in 2015 to give a budget of £56.6 billion. Oakervee's review estimated the project would cost between £80.7 billion and £88.7 billion in 2019 prices, a relative increase of £18.3 billion to £26.3 billion compared to the original budget.[5]


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 67-mile-long (108 km) 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).[6]

Following a review by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition,[7] a route was opened to public consultation in December 2010,[8][9] 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,[10] with alterations designed to minimise the visual, noise, and other environmental impacts of the line.[8]

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.[11][12] The High Speed Rail (London–West Midlands) Act 2017 authorising the construction of Phase 1 passed both Houses of Parliament and received Royal Assent in February 2017.[13] A Phase 2a High Speed Rail (West Midlands–Crewe) bill, seeking the power to construct Phase 2 as far as Crewe and make decisions on the remainder of the Phase 2b route, was introduced in July 2017.[14]

Oakervee Review[edit]

On 21 August 2019, the Department for Transport ordered an independent review of the highly controversial project, chaired by Douglas Oakervee.[15][16] Work on preparations for the first phase proceeded while the review was undertaken.[17] The review was completed in November 2019, but was delayed by purdah rules relating to the general election which took place in the following month.[18] Lord Berkeley, the deputy chair of the review, distanced himself from the review's conclusions and issued a dissenting report in January 2020.[19] The Oakervee Review was published by the Department for Transport on 11 February 2020, alongside a statement from the Prime Minister confirming that HS2 would go ahead in full, with reservations.[5][20] Oakervee's conclusions were that the original rationale for High Speed 2—to provide capacity and reliability on the rail network—was still valid, and no "shovel-ready" interventions existed that could deployed within the timeframe of the project. As a consequence, Oakervee recommended that the project go ahead as planned, with the following recommendations:

  • The Department for Transport should revise the funding envelope and business case in response to the cost estimates in the report;
  • Costs should be controlled and the procurement and contracting strategy—which was partially responsible for cost estimates increasing—be examined;
  • The DfT should model for a reduced service frequency of fourteen trains per hour, with passive provision for two more;
  • Phase 2a should be constructed alongside Phase 1, and the connection to the West Coast Main Line near Handsacre—which represented the original boundary between Phase 1 and 2—be removed; Though the Handsacre Junction will still go-ahead despite the review.[21]
  • Improvements to classic services in the Midlands and Northern England should be delivered in advance of Phase 2b's opening, and the Phase 2b hybrid bill be delayed for several months, pending a review into advanced connectivity in those areas;
  • Old Oak Common should serve as a temporary terminus for the line if the high-speed terminus at Euston is not complete before opening.[5]

After recommending the project proceed, the review recommended a further review of HS2 which will be undertaken by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, concentrating on reducing costs and over-specification. Measures such as reducing the speed of trains and their frequency, and general cost-cutting predominately affecting Phase 2b, will be assessed.[22]

Private Eye magazine questioned the neutrality of the board advising Oakervee, noting that its members included John Cridland, chairman of the Transport for the North body whose rail plans rely on connections to HS2.[23]

Confirmation of start of work[edit]

On 15 April 2020, formal approval was given to construction companies to start work on the project.[24]


Phase 1: London to the West Midlands[edit]

Phase 1 of HS2 from London to Birmingham

Phase 1 will create a new high speed line between London and Birmingham by 2026. A high speed link will also be provided to 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 in advance of later phases.

Four stations will be included on the route: the London and Birmingham city centre termini will be London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street, with interchanges at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange respectively. Euston to Curzon Street station are exactly 100 miles (160 km) apart as the crow flies. The journey will be achieved in 49 minutes.[25][1]

The route beginning at Euston station in London, will enter a twin-bore tunnel near the Mornington Street bridge at the station's throat. After continuing through the underground station at Old Oak Common, an 8-mile (13 km) tunnel follows until West Ruislip, where trains emerge to run on the surface.[26] The line crosses the Colne Valley and the M25 on a viaduct, and then through a 9.8-mile (15.8 km) tunnel under the Chiltern Hills to emerge near South Heath, northwest of Amersham. It will run roughly parallel to the A413 road and the London to Aylesbury Line, to the west of Wendover in what HS2 call a 'green tunnel'. This is a cut-and-cover tunnel under farmland, with soil spread over the final construction in order to reduce the visual impact of the line, reduce noise and allow use of the land above the tunnels for agriculture.[27] After passing west of Aylesbury, the route will run along the corridor of the former Great Central Main Line, joining the alignment north of Quainton Road to travel through rural Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire up to Mixbury, south of Brackley, from where it will cross the A43 and open countryside through South Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. North of a bored tunnel under Long Itchington Wood, the route will pass through rural areas between Kenilworth and Coventry and cross the A46 to enter the West Midlands.

Birmingham Interchange station will be on the outskirts of Solihull, close to the strategic road network including the M42, M6, M6 toll and A45, all crossed on viaducts; also close to Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre. North of the station, a triangular junction west of Coleshill will link the HS2 Birmingham city centre spur with the line continuing north, from which Phase 2a and 2b will be developed. The northern limit for Phase 1 will be a connection onto the WCML near Lichfield. This part of the line would be operative with compatible high speed trains moving onto the conventional track WCML while the western leg of Phase 2 is being built. The city centre spur will be routed along the Water Orton rail corridor, the Birmingham to Derby line through Castle Bromwich and in a tunnel past Bromford.

In November 2015, the then 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 a part of Phase 2a planned to be built simultaneously with Phase 1, effectively merging Phase 2a with Phase 1. The proposed Crewe Hub incorporating a station catering for high speed trains will be built as part of Phase 2a.[28]

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

Phase 2 of HS2 to Leeds and Manchester

In November 2016, Phase 2 plans were approved by the government with the route confirmed.[29][30] Phase 2 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, 2a and 2b. Phase 2a is the section from Lichfield to Crewe on the western section, and Phase 2b is the remainder of Phase 2.

The western section:
This section of the "Y" route extends north from Lichfield connecting to the northbound conventional WCML at Bamfurlong south of Wigan taking services to Scotland, with a branch to the existing Manchester Piccadilly station. A branch on HS2 at High Legh in Cheshire will takes trains on conventional track twenty-five miles (40 km) 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 joins the Cross Country Route, which in turn connects onto the northbound conventional ECML projecting services to the North East of England and Scotland.

West Midlands to Crewe (Phase 2a, western section)[edit]

This phase extends the line northwest to the Crewe Hub from the northern extremity of Phase 1, north of Lichfield. At Lichfield HS2 also connects to the West Coast Main Line. Opening a year after Phase 1, most of the construction of phase 2a will be in parallel with Phase 1. The House of Commons approved phase 2a in July 2019.[31]

Crewe Hub (Phase 2a, western section)[edit]

The Crewe Hub is an important addition to the HS2 network, giving additional connectivity to existing lines radiating from the Crewe junction.[32] The components are:

  • An upgraded station at Crewe, to cope with high-speed trains.
  • A tunnel under the station to allow HS2 trains to bypass the station while remaining on high speed tracks.
  • Branches onto the WCML just to the south and north of the station, to allow HS2 trains to enter the station.[33]

Crewe to Bamfurlong and Manchester (Phase 2b, western section)[edit]

HS2 track continues north from Crewe with its endpoint at Bamfurlong south of Wigan where it branches into the WCML. As the line passes through Cheshire at Millington, it will branch to Manchester using a triangular junction. At this junction, passive provision for a link to Liverpool will be constructed, which will enable the future construction of Northern Powerhouse Rail to link to the HS2 network. This will be provided for in the HS2 Phase 2b Hybrid Bill.[34] The Manchester branch then veers east in a circuitous route around Tatton running past Manchester airport through a station at the airport, with the line then entering a 10-mile (16 km) tunnel, emerging at Ardwick where the line will continue to its terminus at Manchester Piccadilly.

West Midland to ECML and Leeds (Phase 2b, eastern section)[edit]

East of Birmingham the Phase 1 line branches at Coleshill progressing northeast roughly parallel to the M42 motorway, progressing north between Derby and Nottingham. The line ends by joining the Cross Country Route south of Ulleskelf, which itself almost immediately joins the northbound ECML just south of York, projecting services to the northeast of England and Scotland on a mixture of HS2 and conventional tracks.[35]

The line from Birmingham northeast bound incorporates the proposed East Midlands Hub located at Toton between Derby and Nottingham. The East Midlands Hub will serve Derby, Leicester and Nottingham. There will be a parallel spur to the northbound HS2 track using the conventional track Midland Main Line from a branch at Clay Cross branching back onto HS2 track east of Grimethorpe. Chesterfield and Sheffield will be served by HS2 conventional trains being located on this spur.[36] The HS2 track will branch near Woodlesford and directly into a Leeds HS2 terminus constructed on a viaduct over the River Aire and sharing a common concourse with the existing station.[37][38][39]

The initial plan was for the line to serve Sheffield directly via a new raised station adjacent to Tinsley Viaduct, near to Meadowhall Interchange east of Sheffield. This met with opposition from Sheffield Council, who lobbied for the line to be routed through Sheffield city centre. As a result, Sheffield will be accessed via a spur from HS2 branching off at Clay Cross and running through Chesterfield, using the existing conventional track on Midland Main Line. This spur means Chesterfield gains a HS2 classic compatible service, which was not in the initial plan.[40][41][42][43][44]

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

There are no DfT proposals to extend the new 186 mph (300 km/h) high speed lines north of Leeds to Newcastle, west of Manchester to Liverpool, or to Scotland via the west or east coast routes. High speed trains will be capable of accessing some destinations using the existing slower speed high speed tracks, using a mixture of higher speed of over 186 mph (300 km/h) and lower speed 125 mph (200 km/h) classic tracks.


The Liverpool City Region was omitted from direct HS2 track access. The nearest proposed HS2 track will be 16 miles (26 km) from the city centre and 1 mile (1.6 km) to the nearest boundary of the Liverpool City Region.[45]

In February 2016, Liverpool City Council offered £2 billion towards funding a direct HS2 line into the city centre. In November 2018, it was reported that Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, were looking at extending HS2 to Liverpool.[46]

Steve Rotheram, the Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, announced the creation of a Station Commission to determine the size, type and location of a new "transport hub" station in Liverpool's city centre, linking with the local transport infrastructure. The station would serve HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail trains. The existing Lime Street station is considered too small, with expansion difficult and expensive. Transport for the North's strategic plan recognised the need for a new station to accommodate HS2 and NPR trains.[47][48][49]

Rotheram stated in May 2019 that the government now preferred to connect Liverpool to HS2 via an existing freight line rather than build dedicated direct high speed track into the city.[50] In June 2019, HS2 Ltd published revised plans to access Liverpool via High Legh in Cheshire, with passive provision for two junctions to allow Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) services to use portions of HS2 track to access Warrington and Manchester, and for HS2 services to use NPR infrastructure to access central Liverpool.[51]

Newcastle and Scotland[edit]

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.[52]

In 2009, 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".[53]

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.[54] The plan was cancelled in 2016.[55]

In May 2015, HS2 Ltd had concluded that there was "no business case" to extend HS2 north into Scotland, and that high-speed rail services should run north on upgraded conventional track.[56]

In July 2016 it was reported that the 400-metre-long (1,300 ft) HS2 trains using the existing track could 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 the compulsory purchase of buildings and land. Instead, the proposals suggested a possible third major station in Glasgow.[57] In April 2019, the Glasgow Connectivity Commission published a report named "Connecting Glasgow", which recommended that in order to accommodate the trains, Glasgow Central should be redesigned and extended southwards over the river. It was also proposed that a new southern entrance and concourse close to the site of the now long-disused Glasgow Bridge Street station could be built. The commission also highlighted the potential to create a bus station under the station, close to the proposed concourse. The city council had been planning a new HS2 terminal at Collegelands, to the east of the city centre; the commission recommended this plan should be rejected.[58]

Connection to other lines[edit]

The planned high speed rail network with proposed "Classic Compatible" rail routes running off high speed lines.[59]

Existing main lines[edit]

A key feature of the HS2 proposals is that the new high speed track will mix with existing conventional track to form the complete network. Purpose-built conventional trains will be capable of operating on the new spine of high speed track at full line speeds, then seamlessly run onto conventional tracks at speeds of 200 km/h (125 mph) or below. This will enable trains to reach destinations served only by slower high speed tracks, such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, using a mixture of conventional and high speed track. HS2 trains are non-tilting, however, non-tilting speed limits are being increased from 110 mph to 125 mph in some places and modifications to the alignment of the WCML are planned, which will make tilting trains no longer necessary.[60]

The proposed connections from the new high speed tracks onto existing tracks will be at junctions on the network at the following locations.[59]

West Coast Main Line[59]
Cross Country Route and East Coast Main Line
Midland Main Line
Northern Powerhouse Rail (proposed line)
  • at High Legh in Cheshire.

The route from London to the West Midlands will be the first stage of a line to Scotland,[61] with passengers travelling to or from Scotland on through trains using a mixture of new high speed and existing conventional tracks, with a saving of 45 minutes from the opening of Phase 1.[62] 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.[63]

High Speed 1[edit]

The rejected HS1–HS2 link across Camden ( 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, creating one high speed network. This connection would have realised the aims of the Regional Eurostar scheme that was first proposed in the 1980s.[64][65] Several schemes were considered, and the route finally put forward was a tunnel between Old Oak Common and Chalk Farm, linked to existing conventional lines along the North London Line which would connect to HS1 north of St Pancras.[66][67][68][69]

Camden London Borough Council raised concerns about the impact on housing, Camden Market and other local businesses from construction work and bridge widening.[70][71] Alternative schemes were considered, including boring a tunnel under Camden.[72] The HS1–HS2 link was removed from the parliamentary bill at the second reading stage in order to save £700 million from the budget.[73]

As HS1 and HS2 will not be integrated, HS2 Ltd proposed to enhance links between HS1's terminus at St Pancras and HS2's terminus at Euston which are separated by the British Library on Euston Road; at their closest points, the two high-speed lines will be only 640 m (0.4 mi) apart. HS2's proposed options include improvements to pedestrian links between the two stations and the construction of an automated people mover. The two termini will also be served by the same station—Euston St Pancras—on Crossrail 2, which could provide a covered connection.[74]

Northern Powerhouse Rail[edit]

Northern Powerhouse Rail—previously called "High Speed 3" (HS3)—is a high speed railway across the North of England that was proposed in 2015 by Transport for the North (TfN). The east–west trans-Pennine line would provide a high speed link between northern cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Hull, with connections 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 redesign of HS2 would be needed to link into HS3.[75] The proposal was given approval in the March 2016 budget.[76]

In December 2016, Sir David Higgins, then head of HS2, gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee about collaboration between HS2 and HS3, and outlined potential schemes being considered for a high speed connection between Liverpool and Manchester; these include a link via Golborne, or a southern route via Manchester Airport into Piccadilly station.[77]

In May 2019, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee recommended treating NPR and HS2 Phase 2b as one project.[78] In June 2019, HS2 Ltd published a document stating that NPR will branch into HS2 at High Legh in Cheshire.[51] This was taken further, with steps towards NPR integration being announced in HS2 Ltd's Phase 2b design refinement consultation. The two schemes which were developed separately will lead to the development of NPR in close co-ordination with HS2.[79]

Northern Ireland[edit]

It has been suggested that a future rail connection to Northern Ireland could link with the line.[80]

Planned stations[edit]

London and Birmingham[edit]

Euston Terminus and the nearby terminus of High Speed 1 at St Pancras

Central London[edit]

HS2's southern terminus is London Euston. Peak-hour capacity at the HS2 London terminal at Euston is predicted to more than triple when the network is fully operational, increasing from 11,300 to 34,900 passengers each way. Upon completion, Euston will have 24 platforms serving heavy rail stations. Euston station is also served by the London Underground's Northern and Victoria lines.

As part of the HS2 project, Euston will be remodelled to integrate with the current classic rail station, and improved connections to Euston Square tube station, which serves the Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines will be provided.[81] Euston will also be better connected with HS1's terminus at St Pancras, including a proposed station on Crossrail 2 under the British Library. St Pancras's own links with King's Cross station will effectively create a "mega-station" along the Euston Road from Euston Square in the west to King's Cross St Pancras in the east.[82]

West London[edit]

Crossrail Interchange at Old Oak Common

The DfT's command paper 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.[83] Old Oak Common will also be connected, via out of station interchange, with London Overground stations at Old Oak Common Lane on the North London line and Hythe Road on the West London line. Old Oak Common is also within walking distance of Willesden Junction station on the North London, West London and Watford DC lines on the Overground and Bakerloo line of the Underground, and North Acton station on the Underground's Central line.[84]

Birmingham Interchange[edit]

The proposed "Birmingham Interchange"

The March 2010 report proposed that a new Birmingham Interchange through the station in rural Solihull, on the eastern side of the M42 motorway, which separates the site from the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham International Airport and the existing Birmingham International Station.[85] Passengers will interchange via a people mover between the stations and the other sites, with a capacity of over 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction in the peak period.[86] The AirRail Link people mover already operates between Birmingham International station and the airport.

Birmingham Airport's chief executive Paul Kehoe stated that HS2 is a key element in increasing the number of flights using the airport, with added patronage by inhabitants of London and the South East, as HS2 will reduce travelling times to Birmingham Airport from London to under 40 minutes.[87]

Birmingham city centre[edit]

Proposed layout for Curzon Street station

A new terminus for HS2, termed "Birmingham Curzon Street" in the government's command paper[88] and "Birmingham Fazeley Street" in the report produced by HS2 Ltd, would be built on land between Moor Street Queensway. It would be reached via a spur line from a triangular junction with the HS2 main line at Coleshill.[89] A station of the same name existed on the site between 1838 and 1966; the surviving Grade I listed station building will be retained and renovated.

The planned site for the new station is immediately adjacent to Moor Street station, and approximately 400 metres (0.25 mi) northeast of New Street station, which is separated from New Street and Moor Street by the Bull Ring. Passenger interchange with Moor Street would be at street level, across Moor Street Queensway; interchange with New Street would be via a pedestrian walkway between Moor Street and New Street (opened in 2013).[90][91][92] The other city-centre station, Snow Hill, is a couple of minutes' train journey from Moor Street.

Development planning for the Fazeley Street quarter of Birmingham has changed as a result of HS2. Prior to the announcement of the HS2 station, Birmingham City University had planned to build a new campus in Eastside.[93][94] The proposed Eastside development will now include a new museum quarter, with the original 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.[95]

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.[96] 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.[97][98] In 2014, the chairman of HS2 advocated a dedicated hub station in Crewe.[99] In November 2015 it was announced that the Crewe hub completion would be brought forward to 2027.[100] 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.[33]

Manchester Airport (Phase 2b)[edit]

The proposed Manchester airport station[101]

An HS2 station provisionally named Manchester Interchange is planned to the south of the city of Manchester, serving Manchester Airport. It was recommended in 2013 by local authorities during the consultation stage. Construction will be part-funded by private investment from the Manchester Airports Group.[102][103]

The proposed site is located on the northwestern side of the airport, to the west of the M56 motorway at junction 5, and approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km) northwest of the existing Manchester Airport railway station. A sub-surface station is planned, approximately 8.5 metres (27 ft 11 in) below ground level, consisting of two central 415-metre (1,362 ft) platforms, a pair of through tracks for trains to pass through the station without stopping, a street-level passenger concourse and a main entrance on the eastern side, facing the airport.[104]

Current proposals do not detail passenger interchange methods; various options are being considered to integrate the new station with existing transport networks, including extending the Manchester Metrolink airport tram line to connect the HS2 station with the existing airport railway station.[105][106][107][108]

If the station is built, it is estimated that the average journey time from London Euston to Manchester Airport would be 59 minutes.[109]

Manchester city centre (Phase 2b)[edit]

The proposed extension of Manchester Piccadilly station

The route will continue from the airport into Manchester city centre via a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) twin bore branch tunnel under the dense urban districts of south Manchester before surfacing at Ardwick.[110][111][112] The 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.[113] It is envisaged both tunnels will be, as an "absolute minimum", 7.25 metres (23 ft 9 in) in diameter to accommodate the high-speed trains.[114]

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.[115] Three final sites made the list: Manchester Piccadilly station, Salford Central station and a newly built station at Salford Middlewood Locks.[116] 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 approach faces southeast away from the incoming HS2 line, to maximise economic potential and connectivity rather than building a new station at a greater cost.[117]

HS2 will terminate at an upgraded Manchester Piccadilly station.[96] 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.[103] 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]

The proposed new station in the East Midlands

HS2 will serve a new station named the East Midlands Hub located at Toton sidings in Long Eaton. The station will be an out of town parkway station,[note 1] serving the cities of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.[118] 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.[118] 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.[119]

Derby City Council and Nottingham City Council have proposed an extension to the Nottingham Express Transit tram system, which currently terminates at Toton Lane, to serve the HS2 station and then branch to provide tram services to Derby and East Midlands Airport. Toton Lane currently serves as a Park and Ride station for the nearby M1 motorway.[120]


HS2 continues north passing Sheffield to the east of the city. Initially, there were plans for a HS2 station on the main line at Meadowhall in the east of the city; the area has an indoor shopping centre, a Park & Ride service for the M1 motorway, and the Meadowhall Interchange station which is served by local rail and Sheffield Supertram services. After petitioning by Sheffield City Council—who claimed that a station in the city centre would have greater economic benefits and cause less congestion than the Meadowhall site—the route to the city was changed in July 2016, with high-speed trains serving the centre of the city using classic compatible trains.[121][122] High-speed trains would branch off HS2 track onto the Midland main line south of Sheffield at Clay Cross, serve Chesterfield station and continue north into Sheffield station. High-speed trains can leave Sheffield heading north and then branch back onto HS2 track north of the city at Grimethorpe.[40][41]

As a replacement for the Meadowhall station, Sir David Higgins—then the CEO of HS2 Ltd—announced his support for a "South Yorkshire Parkway" station on the main line. In January 2017, the government published eight possible sites across South Yorkshire and the City of Wakefield for the parkway station; by December 2017, three possible sites were still being assessed, with Higgins requesting that local government leaders reach a consensus on the final site.[123]


Graphical mockup showing new HS2 platforms (blue) joined to the existing Leeds station platforms (pink)

HS2 continues north after the branch at Grimethorpe through West Yorkshire toward York, with a spur taking the line into Leeds. The original proposals recommended that HS2 would terminate at a new station—Leeds New Lane—situated approximately 400m south of the existing Leeds station; the two stations would have been connected by a moving walkway.[35] In 2015, the New Lane site was removed from plans in favour of a site on a viaduct over the River Aire, which would adjoin the current station and share a common concourse over Neville Street.[39]


Work underway on clearing the site at Birmingham Curzon Street

Civil engineering works for the actual line were scheduled to commence in June 2019, delayed from the original target date of November 2018. The civil aspect of the construction of Phase 1 is worth roughly £6.6 billion with preparation including over 8,000 boreholes for ground investigation.[124]

Euston station in London[edit]

In October 2018, work commenced with the demolition of the former carriage sheds at Euston station. This will allow the start of construction at the throat of the station at Mornington Street bridge, twin-bore 8-mile (13 km) tunnels to West Ruislip.[125][126] The taxi rank at Euston station was moved to a temporary location at the front of the station in January 2019 so that demolition of the One Euston Square and Grant Thornton House tower blocks could commence. The demolition period is scheduled for ten months.[127]

Curzon Street station in Birmingham[edit]

Clearing the site for construction commenced in December 2018.[128][129]


Proposed service pattern[edit]

HS2 will provide up to 18 trains an hour by 2033 to and from London.[130] The service pattern is not finalised however the 2020 Business Case contains a suggested service pattern. Some services will operate as two connected units and will split to serve multiple northern destinations.[131]

Phase 1 / 1+2a Service Pattern[edit]

After an initial period with a reduced service running north from Old Oak Common, a full 9 trains-an-hour service from London Euston is proposed to run.

While mostly the same, the proposed service pattern is different when it comes to Liverpool, Lancaster and Macclesfield trains whether or not phase 2a (between Handsacre and Crewe) opens at the same time as phase 1.

London to Birmingham
Route tph Calling at Train
London Euston to Birmingham Curzon Street 3 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange 400m
London to the North West and Scotland
Route tph Calling at Train
London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly 3 Old Oak Common, Wilmslow (1tph), Stockport 200m
London Euston to Glasgow Central 1 Old Oak Common, Preston, Carlisle
London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street 1 Old Oak Common, Stafford, Runcorn
calls at Crewe instead of Stafford if phase 2a is open
1 Old Oak Common, Crewe, Runcorn
runs joined to Lancaster train between Euston and Crewe if phase 2a is open
London Euston to Lancaster 1 Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston
runs joined to a Liverpool train between Euston and Crewe if phase 2a is open
London to Staffordshire (post-Phase 2a)
Route tph Calling at Train
London Euston to Macclesfield 1 Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent
only runs if phase 2a is open

Full Network Service Pattern[edit]

When the whole of phase 2 is open, the following service pattern is proposed. This is subject to change, relying on other schemes (such as Northern Powerhouse Rail) not altering the shape of the network.

London to Birmingham
Route tph Calling at Train
London Euston to Birmingham Curzon Street 3 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange 400m
London to the North West and Scotland
Route tph Calling at Train
London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly 3 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Manchester Interchange 400m
London Euston to Glasgow Central 2 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston, Carlisle
runs joined to Edinburgh trains between Euston and Carlisle
London Euston to Edinburgh Waverley 2 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), Preston, Carlisle, Haymarket
runs joined to Glasgow trains between Euston and Carlisle
London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street 2 Old Oak Common, Crewe, Runcorn
1tph runs joined to the Lancaster train between Euston and Crewe
London Euston to Lancaster 1 Old Oak Common, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay, Wigan North Western, Preston and Lancaster
runs joined to a Liverpool train between Euston and Crewe
London to Staffordshire
Route tph Calling at Train
London Euston to Macclesfield 1 Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent 200m
London to Yorkshire and the North East
Route tph Calling at Train
London Euston to Leeds 2 Old Oak Common, Birmingham Interchange (1tph), East Midlands Hub 400m
1 Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub
runs joined to Chesterfield-skipping Sheffield train between Euston and East Midlands Hub
London Euston to York 1 Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub
runs joined to Chesterfield-calling Sheffield train between Euston and East Midlands Hub
London Euston to Sheffield 2 Old Oak Common, East Midlands Hub, Chesterfield (1tph)
run joined to a Leeds or York train between Euston and East Midlands Hub
London Euston to Newcastle 2 Old Oak Common, York, Darlington (1tph)
Birmingham to the North West and Scotland
Route tph Calling at Train
Birmingham Curzon Street to Manchester Piccadilly 2 Manchester Interchange 200m
Birmingham Curzon Street to Glasgow Central 12 Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme[a] or Penrith[a], Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell
Birmingham Curzon Street to Edinburgh Waverley 12 Wigan North Western, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme[a] or Penrith[a], Carlisle, Haymarket
Birmingham to Yorkshire and the North East
Route tph Calling at Train
Birmingham Curzon Street to Leeds 2 East Midlands Hub 200m
Birmingham Curzon Street to Newcastle 1 East Midlands Hub, York, Darlington, Durham


Services on High Speed 2 are included within the West Coast Partnership franchise, which was awarded to Avanti West Coast—a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia—when the franchise commenced in December 2019. Avanti West Coast will be responsible for running all aspects of the service including ticketing, trains and the maintenance of the infrastructure.[132][133] The new franchise will run for the first five years of HS2's operation.[134][135]


Regarding HS2 tickets, 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.[136] 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."[137]


Peak hour capacity leaving/entering Euston[138]
Current capacity
Capacity post HS2[139]
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,[11] with anticipated annual passenger numbers of 85 million.[140] The line will be used intensively, with up to 15 trains per hour travelling to and from Euston. As all trains will be capable of the same speed, capacity is increased as faster trains will not need to reduce speed for slower freight and commuter trains. Taking high speed trains off the West Coast Main Line, East Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line will release capacity for slower freight trains and for local, regional and commuter services.[141] 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".[142]


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.[143] HS2 Ltd's report assumed a GC structure gauge for passenger capacity estimations,[144] with a maximum design speed of 400 kilometres per hour (250 mph).[145] Initially, trains would run at a maximum speed of 360 kilometres per hour (225 mph).[146]

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

At first, platform height was to be the European standard of 760 millimetres (2 ft 6 in);[147] the trains will instead have a floor height of 1,115 millimetres (3 ft 7.9 in).[148] This means the new HS2 stations will have the conventional British platform height of 915mm, as do domestic platforms for Class 395 trains on High Speed 1.

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

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 was expected to be awarded in 2019. There will be 60 trains for Phase 1, each capable of seating 1,000 passengers.[149]

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 the best use of the line:[146]

  • 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.
  • conventional trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional 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, although these non-tilting trains would run slower than existing tilting trains on conventional track. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought "off-the-shelf", these conventional trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.[150]

Both types of train would have a maximum speed of at least 360 km/h (225 mph) and a length of 200 metres (660 ft); two units could be joined together for a 400-metre (1,300 ft) train.[146] 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."[151]

The DfT report also considered the possibility of 'gauge clearance' work on non high speed lines as an alternative to conventional 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.[146]

Alstom, one of the bidders for the contract to build the trains, proposed in October 2016 tilting HS2 trains to run on HS2 and conventional tracks, to increase overall speeds when running on conventional tracks.[152][153]

The estimated cost of power for running HS2 trains on the high speed network is estimated to be £3.90 / km for 200 m trains and £5.00 / km for 260 m trains. On the conventional network, the power costs are £2.00 / km and £2.60 / km respectively. [154]

Maintenance depots[edit]

Rolling stock[edit]

A depot will be built in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, covering all of Phase 1 and Phase 2a.[155] In July 2018, the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, announced that the maintenance depot for the eastern leg of Phase 2b would be at Gateway 45 near to the M1 motorway in Leeds.[156][157]

Infrastructure maintenance[edit]

The infrastructure maintenance depot (IMD) for Phase 1 will be constructed roughly halfway along the route, north of Aylesbury, between Steeple Claydon and Calvert in Buckinghamshire. This location is adjacent to the intersection of HS2 and the East West Rail route.[158]

In the working draft environmental statement for Phase 2b, the IMD on the eastern leg is proposed near Staveley, Derbyshire on a former chemical works site, while Phase 2b, the western leg, will have one near Stone, Staffordshire.[159]

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:[160] Times given for Manchester and Leeds until completion of Phase 2b will be on a mixture of HS2 and classic track.

London to/from Standard journey time before HS2


Estimated time after Phase 1[161]



time after Phase 2 (hrs:min)

Estimated Phase 1 reduction Estimated Phase 2 reduction
Birmingham 1:24[t 1] 0:52[162] 0:39 none
Manchester 2:08[t 2] 1:40 Phase 2a: 1:30 [163] Phase 2b: 1:08 0:28 1:00
Leeds 2:20[t 3] 1:28 none 0:52
  1. ^ Birmingham 1:13; one train per day, in one direction only: 07:30 New Street–08:43 Euston; standard journey times are 1:24
  2. ^ Manchester 2:00; one train per day, in one direction only: 07:00 Piccadilly–09:00 Euston; standard journey times are 2:08
  3. ^ Leeds 1:59: one train per day, in one direction only: 07:00 Leeds–08:59 King's Cross, standard journey times are 2:20

To other stations[edit]

London to/from Journey time before HS2


Journey time after HS2 Phase 2[164][165]


Reduction after HS2 Phase 2
Carlisle 3:15 2:34 0:41 (21.02%)
Chesterfield 1:49 1:15 0:34 (31.2%)
Crewe 1:30 0:55 0:35 (38.8%)
Edinburgh 4:23 3:38 0:45 (17.1%)
Glasgow 4:32 3:38 0:54 (19.9%)
Liverpool 2:08 1:36 0:32 (25.0%)
Newcastle 2:52 2:19 0:33 (19.2%)
Oxenholme 2:34 1:55 0:39 (25.32%)
Penrith 2:57 2:18 0:39 (22.03%)
Preston 2:08 1:24 0:44 (34.4%)
Sheffield 2:05 1:19 0:46 (36.8%)
Warrington 1:44 1:13 0:31 (24.08%)
York 1:53 1:23 0:30 (26.5%)

From Birmingham[edit]

Birmingham to/from Journey time before HS2


Journey time after HS2 Phase 2[164][166]


Reduction after HS2 Phase 2
Chesterfield 1:00 0:45 0:15 (25.0%)
Edinburgh 4:01 3:14 0:47 (19.5%)
Glasgow 4:08 3:22 0:46 (18.5%)
Leeds 1:58 0:57 1:01 (51.7%)
Manchester Airport 1:44 0:32 1:12 (69.2%)
Manchester 1:28 0:41 0:47 (53.4%)
Newcastle 3:14 2:07 1:07 (34.5%)
Oxenholme 2:05 1:19 0:46 (36.8%)
Preston 1:31 0:53 0:38 (41.7%)
Sheffield 1:03 0:48 0:15 (23.8%)
York 2:10 1:03 1:07 (51.5%)


The Department for Transport initially estimated the cost of first 190-kilometre (120 mi) section, from London to Birmingham, at between £15.8 and £17.4 billion,[167] and the entire Y-shaped 540-kilometre (335 mi) network between £30.9 and £36 billion,[168][167] not including the Manchester Airport station which would be locally funded.[169] In June 2013 the projected cost (in 2011 prices) rose by £10 billion to £42.6 billion, with an extra £7.5 billion budgeted for rolling stock for a total of £50.1 billion.[170] 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.[171] The most commonly cited cost applied to the project is £56.6 billion, which corresponds to the June 2013 funding package, as adjusted for inflation by the House of Lords' Economic Affairs Committee in 2015.[172] Over sixty years, the line was estimated to provide £92.2 billion of net benefits and £43.6 billion in new revenue; as a result, the benefit–cost ratio of the project was then estimated to be 2.30; that is, it is projected to provide £2.30 of benefits for every £1 spent.[173]

Cost increases began to lead to reductions in the planned track; for instance, the link between HS1 and HS2 was later dropped on cost grounds.[174] In April 2016 Sir Jeremy Heywood, a top UK civil servant, was reviewing the HS2 project to trim costs and gauge whether the project could be kept within budget.[175][176] The cost of HS2 is around 25 per cent higher than the international average, which was blamed on the higher population density and cost of land in a report by PwC. The costs are also higher because the line will run directly into city centres instead of joining existing networks on the outskirts.[177] By 2019, Oakervee estimated that the projected cost, in 2019 prices, had increased to £80.7 billion to £88.7 billion—the budget envelope in 2019 prices is £62.4 billion—and the benefit–cost ratio had dropped to between 1.3 and 1.5.[5]

Sources of funding other than central government have been mooted for additional links. The City of Liverpool, omitted from direct HS2 access, in March 2016 offered £6 billion to fund a link from the city to the HS2 backbone 20 miles (32 km) away.[178] HS2 received funding from the European Union's Connecting Europe Facility.[179]


Government rationale[edit]

A 2008 paper, 'Delivering a Sustainable Transport System' 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".[180][181] They noted that railway passenger numbers had been growing significantly in recent years—doubling from 1995 to 2015[182]—and that the Rugby – Euston section was expected to have insufficient capacity sometime around 2025.[183] This is despite the WCML upgrade on some sections of the track, which was completed in 2008, lengthened trains and an assumption that plans to upgrade the route with cab signalling would be realised.[184]

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.[185] It says the new line "would improve rail services from London to cities in the North of England and Scotland,[186] and that the chosen route to the west of London will improve passenger transport links to Heathrow Airport".[187] 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.[188]

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.[189] A study by Network Rail found that upgrading the existing network to deliver the same extra capacity released by constructing HS2 would require fifteen years of weekend closures. This does not include the additional express seats added by HS2 nor would it deliver any journey time reductions.[190]

Support and opposition[edit]

HS2 has significant support and opposition from various groups and organisations. It is officially supported by the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and the Scottish National Parties. The Brexit Party, UK Independence Party and Green Party oppose the scheme. 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.[191] Some[who?] Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians do not support their party line, opposing the HS2 scheme in detail; some support proposals for alternative routes with some rejecting the whole principle of high-speed rail.

Community engagement[edit]

HS2 Ltd announced in March 2012 that it would 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.[192] 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.[193]

Community forums[edit]

HS2 Ltd set up 25 community forums along Phase 1 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."[194] 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 1 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.[195]

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.[196]

Environmental and community impact[edit]

The impact of HS2 has received particular attention in the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where the line passes through the Misbourne Valley.[197][198] The government announced in January 2011 that two million trees would be planted along sections of the route to mitigate the visual impact.[199] The route was changed so as to tunnel underneath the southern end of the Chilterns, with the line emerging northwest of Amersham.[200] The 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[201] through ancient woodland at a nature reserve at Park Hall near Birmingham.[202]

Property demolition, land take and compensation[edit]

Phase 1 is estimated to result in the demolition of more than 400 houses: 250 around Euston; 20–30 between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip; around 50 in Birmingham; and the remainder in pockets along the route.[203] 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.[204] In Birmingham, the new Curzon Gate student residence will be demolished;[205] Birmingham City University requested £30 million in compensation after the plans were announced.[93] Once original plans had been released in 2010, the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) was set up to compensate homeowners whose houses were to be affected by the line at the government's discretion. Phase 1 of the scheme came to an end on 17 June 2010 and Phase 2 ended in 2013.[206]

Ancient woodland impact[edit]

The Woodland Trust claims that 108 ancient woodlands will suffer loss or be damaged due to HS2, and 34 more will be affected by disturbance, noise and pollution.[207] In England, the term "ancient woodland" refers to areas that have been constantly forested since at least 1600; such areas accommodate a complex and diverse ecology of plants and animals.[208] 52,000 such sites exist.[131] According to the Trust, 56 hectares (0.6 km2) are threatened with total loss from the construction of Phases 1 and 2.[209] Rare species such as the dingy skipper butterfly, barn owl, and white clawed crayfish could see a decreased population or even localised extinction upon the realization of the project.[210] To mitigate the loss, HS2 Ltd says that seven million trees and shrubs will be planted during Phase 1, creating 900 hectares (9 km2) of new woods. A further 33 km2 of natural habitats are also planned.[211]

Carbon dioxide 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 dioxide emission reduction or increase from a shift to rail use, and a comparison with the case in which no new high-speed lines were built.[212] The report concluded that there was no net carbon benefit in the foreseeable future, taking only the route to Manchester. Additional emissions from building a new rail route would be larger in the first ten years at least when compared to a model where no new line was built.[213]

The 2006 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.[214] 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);[215] 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 rail; air travel emits 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 carbon-neutral energy production the case becomes much more favourable.[215]

The High Speed Rail Command Paper published in March 2010 stated that the project was likely to be roughly carbon neutral.[216] 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 making rapid progress in reducing carbon emissions from UK electricity generation.[12]

The Phase 1 environmental statement estimates that 5.8–6.2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions will be involved in the construction of that section of the line, with operation of the line estimated to be carbon negative thereafter; operational emissions, modal shift, and other environmental mitigations—such as tree planting and decarbonisation of the electrical grid—are expected to provide a saving of 3 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions over sixty years of operation. The carbon dioxide emissions per passenger-kilometre in 2030 are estimated to be 8 grams for high-speed rail, as opposed to 22 grams for conventional intercity rail,[note 3] 67 grams for private car transport, and 170 grams for domestic aviation.[217]

The Government notes that one-third of the carbon footprint from constructing Phase One results from tunnelling - the amount of which has been increased to mitigate the impact of the railway on habitats and its visual impact.[131]


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 (330 yards) of the preferred route have the potential to experience significant noise impacts.[203] The government has announced that trees planted to create a visual barrier will reduce noise pollution.[199]

Public consultations[edit]

Since the announcement of Phase 1, 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.[218] Consultations with those affected were set up over late 2012 and January 2013, to allow homeowners to express their concerns within their local community.[219]

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.[220] 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.[221][219]

Political impact[edit]

The revision of the route through South Yorkshire, which replaced the original plans for a station at Meadowhall with a station off the HS2 tracks at Sheffield, was cited as a major reason for the collapse of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal signed in 2015; Sheffield City Council's successful lobbying for a city-centre station in opposition to Barnsley, Doncaster, and Rotherham's preference for the Meadowhall option caused Doncaster and Barnsley councils to seek an all-Yorkshire devolution deal instead.[222][223]

Archaeological discoveries[edit]

Construction of HS2 will involve the largest archaeology programme ever undertaken in the UK. Over 1,000 archaeologists will explore 60 sites across the HS2 route, spanning 10,000 years of the UK's history. Early discoveries were two Victorian era time capsules found during the demolition of the National Temperance Hospital in Camden, and Prehistoric flints found in Hillingdon. The long lost remains of the explorer Captain Matthew Flinders were discovered during excavations at the former burial ground of St James's Church, which was some distance from the church, next to Euston railway station.[224][225] His remains were identified from a lead coffin plate during the excavation of around 40,000 skeletons that were buried underneath the station.[226][227] It is proposed to re-bury the remains, at a site to be decided, after osteoarchaeologists have examined them.[228]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In British usage, a parkway station is one with car parking, which may be at a distance from the area it serves
  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.
  3. ^ High Speed 2's estimates for intercity rail emissions assume a mix of electric and diesel traction on the intercity network, taking into account current electrification plans.
  1. ^ a b c d Trains from Birmingham to Scotland will alternate calls at Oxenholme and Penrith. Which Scottish destination is paired with which Lake District station hasn't been decided


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