CAF-designed prototype for HS2 project, source: CAF

UK government continues HS2 and considers HS3

After the thrilling hesitations and reflections, the UK government has finally taken a decision on the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway. The long-pending project for connecting London and the cities of Northern England will be constructed and the passenger trains will run on the line at earliest in 2028. At the same time, another vital high-speed railway known as HS3 or High Speed North is under scrutiny. It will link the cities of Northern England among themselves.

The HS2 project was the main topic during the parliamentary hearing on Tuesday, 11 February. Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared the final decision on this planned railway. “So today, Mr Speaker, the Cabinet has given high-speed rail the green signal. We are going to get this done,” the head of the government said in his yesterday’s statement in the House of Commons. He also noted that the Phase 1 from London to Birmingham and 2a from Birmingham to Crewe will be definitely constructed. However, the Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester and from Birmingham to Leeds and York will be reviewed.

Also, Boris Johnson noted that the government will improve its control on the project implementation. He even intends to appoint a dedicated minister. “And to ensure that we do so without further blowouts on either cost or schedule, we are today taking decisive action to restore discipline to the programme. I will be appointing a minister, whose full-time job will be to oversee the project. A new ministerial oversight group will be tasked with taking strategic decisions about it, there will be changes to the way HS2 is managed,” Johnson said.

High Speed North

At the same time, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps highlights another important railway project. “Fully informed by a comprehensive and detailed scrutiny of all the facts, now is the time to drive HS2 forward, alongside a ‘High Speed North’ plan to give the North and Midlands the capacity and connectivity it vitally needs,” he said. The mentioned High-Speed North line is also known as High-Speed 3 (HS3) or Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR). It will provide a high-speed train service for Liverpool and will connect two branches of HS2. The line will run from Liverpool via Manchester, Sheffield to Leeds and Hull.

Oakervee Review

Douglas Oakervee’s independent review of the HS2 railway was also published on Tuesday, 11 February. The UK’s Prime Minister mentioned it in his speech that the special minister will examine the project in accordance with the recommendations of Douglas Oakervee appointed by the government to analyse and correct the HS2. “There are no-shovel ready alternative investments in the existing network that are available: if HS2 were to be cancelled, many years of planning work would be required to identify, design and develop new proposals. The upgrading of existing lines would also come at a high passenger cost with significant disruption. The Review strongly advises against cancelling the scheme,” the document says.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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