Our railways are increasingly busy. Demand for long distance rail travel has doubled in the past 15 years, and Britain’s population is forecast to increase by 10 million over the next 25 years.
Good transport links make our economy stronger and our lives easier. Congested transport networks are unreliable and constrain travel opportunities, restricting growth.
We plan to invest more than £70 billion in all forms of transport by 2021. High Speed 2 (HS2) is part of this, accounting for £16 billion of this investment.
We are developing HS2 to provide Britain’s railways with new capacity, better connectivity and quicker journeys.
HS2 will link 8 of Britain’s 10 largest cities, serving 1 in 5 of the UK population. It will allow more passengers to use trains and more freight operators to use rail rather than road.
The new railway will greatly increase capacity. It will treble the number of seats on trains into Euston and almost double the number of trains per hour on the West Coast Main Line.
It will free up capacity on existing rail lines for more commuter, rural and freight train services, and mean fewer cars and lorries on our roads, cutting congestion and carbon.
The new railway will be an engine for economic growth. HS2 will generate jobs and help rebalance the economy between north and south.
We will build HS2 in 2 phases. The first phase will link London Euston with a new station at Birmingham Curzon Street and will include a station at Old Oak Common in west London and another near Birmingham Airport. For the second phase the route will divide into 2 lines, one to Manchester Piccadilly via Crewe and Manchester Airport and the other to Leeds via the East Midlands and Sheffield Meadowhall.
HS2 will be integrated with the existing national railway network and HS2 trains will be compatible with existing railway lines, so that cities and towns beyond the new network – such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Preston, Warrington, Lancaster, Carlisle, Durham and Darlington - will also benefit from direct HS2 services.
Construction along the line is due to start in 2017 and be completed by 2025. The first train services will run between London and Birmingham from 2026.
We recognise that a scheme on the scale of HS2 will have impacts on the local environment and communities and we’re committed to minimising these impacts and treating those affected fairly.
We announced the go ahead for the HS2 project in January 2012, after a wide-ranging consultation.
Following the consultation, we identified the route between London and Birmingham for Phase One of HS2 and altered it to reduce the impact on local communities and the environment. This included, for example, much more tunneling in the Chilterns and in Ruislip so that more than half of the 140 kilometre route will be in tunnels or cuttings.
Who we’ve consulted
We decided to go ahead with plans to build a high speed rail line after an extensive consultation with individuals, businesses and organisations across the UK in 2011.
The consultation included material about the economic case for HS2.
We also ran a consultation on an ‘exceptional hardship scheme’ in 2010 for home owners who have an urgent need to sell their property, but because of HS2 Phase One either cannot do so, or can only do so at a substantial discount.
In January 2013 we ran a consultation on an exceptional hardship scheme for home owners along the HS2 Phase Two line of route.
In July 2013 we launched a consultation about the proposed route and sustainability impacts of HS2 Phase Two. This consultation will close on 31 January 2014.
In September 2013, new proposals setting out compensation for residents affected by the first phase of HS2, were outlined in a consultation. The consultation closes on 4 December 2013.
Bills and legislation
It was announced in the 2013 Queen’s speech that legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the HS2 railway line.
The High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act will will provide parliamentary authority for essential expenditure to pursue the project to build a high speed rail network from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds to the ambitious timetable that has been proposed.
The High Speed Two hybrid Bill will seek the necessary legal powers to enable the construction and operation of the first phase of HS2 railway between London and the West Midlands. On becoming an act, it would give the government deemed planning permission to deliver the scheme, including the powers to acquire the necessary land and undertake the works required.
Roles of DfT and HS2 Ltd
HS2 is being developed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and High Speed Two Limited (HS2 Ltd). HS2 Ltd performs both a delivery and advisory role in the development of the high speed rail network. A document, outlining the broad framework within which HS2 Ltd must operate (PDF, 200KB), was published in July 2013.