New high speed rail lines are essential to provide the capacity and connectivity between Britain’s major cities required to deliver environmentally sustainable economic growth over the next 100 years.
Although not providing a new high-speed Manchester - Bradford - Leeds route, the Integrated Rail Plan will provide better regional connectivity and capacity by integrating high-speed London -Manchester - Leeds and London/Birmingham - Nottingham/Sheffield services with HS2. Railfuture has always maintained that HS2 must be designed to maximise the capacity of the rail network and be integrated into regional transport networks in order to maximise regional economic benefits.
The Integrated Rail Plan has generated lots of adverse publicity, but how does it really compare with what people in the Midlands and North thought they were promised? Artists impression of the previously proposed Leeds HS2 station - image by HS2 Ltd.
The HS2 Eastern leg is looking increasing likely to be scrapped, leaving many major cities off the high speed network. However, Railfuture has a cheaper and better alternative plan. There could still be a return of 186 mph (or faster) trains to Leeds – image by RP Marks.
Railfuture’s HS2 update part 1 in December 2020 provided a comprehensive review of the development, and lessons learned in developing high speed rail. This update part 2 responds to the National Infrastructure Commission's Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North. Map of whole HS2 route. Image HS2 Ltd.
Railfuture Policy Director Ian Brown explains the background to HS2 and our stance on the current Phases 1 and 2a and the ongoing consultation on integration with Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester and Leeds. Proposed Euston station. The original HS2 plan was to rebuild Euston station completely incorporating a major development. This was cut down following the Oakervee review into a more modest, but attractive facility for the 6 HS2 platforms at the west side of the station when the government was dithering about stopping at Old Oak Common on grounds of cost. Railfuture considers the London city centre station as essential but the focus must now be on improving passenger walkways to the Underground and to St Pancras (Thameslink). Image HS2 Ltd.
Ian Brown, Railfuture’s Policy Director, explains the purpose of the HS2 Review commissioned by the new government, and Railfuture’s position.
HS2 must be integrated with local transport networks, otherwise congestion, not economic growth, will be generated. However in Birmingham, the HS2 terminus at Curzon Street will be remote from local rail services, even though they run alongside. Phil Bennion, a past MEP for the West Midlands, has a solution. Image: Curzon Street station between existing rail line and new development area.
HS2 will create massive extra rail capacity, but unless it is integrated with local transport networks to create connectivity with city centres and their surrounding city regions, congestion not economic growth will result. Image: proposed colocation of HS2 platforms and existing city centre station at Leeds.
There were many objections to HS1 when it was being planned, but it now carries 80% of London – Paris travellers, whilst domestic HS1 services are full and standing during peak hours. The success of HS1 has lessons for HS2, on which construction is planned to start in 2017. Javelin domestic HS1 train at St Pancras - photo reproduced under Creative Commons.
HS2 website. Railfuture’s consultation responses are here.
Although Railfuture strongly supports integrated city centre stations, we recognise that this is impossible at Birmingham New Street. Railfuture therefore strongly welcomes and supports the West Midlands Curzon Street Masterplan to integrate the HS2 Birmingham station into the city transport network, including light rail extensions.
Improvements to connectivity in the East Midlands to Nottingham and Derby are essential. This has at last been recognised by the National Infrastructure Commission's Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and North which has taken the first genuinely strategic view of rail, and has identified connectivity between regional cities as higher priority than connectivity with London.
We are in favour of the concept of the Crewe Hub, which will bring benefit to the North earlier, provided thatthe HS2 platforms are adjacent to the existing station for east connections, and that both north and south facing connections are available so that classic-compatible HS2 services can be extended north to Preston/Lancaster/Penrith and south to Stafford/Stoke/Macclesfield.
HS2 should link with a high-speed Northern Powerhouse Rail via an underground through station at Manchester Piccadilly, enabling through high speed services from HS2 to Leeds.
We also urge Government to press ahead in parallel with Phase 3 to connect Scotland as strongly advocated by the Scottish Government.
2018 Higgins report that the previous HS1 - HS2 link proposal was suboptimal, but recommend that passive provision be made within the tunnels from Old Oak Common for an HS1 - HS2 link to better integrate HS2 with the existing network in the longer term. When HS2 has been extended to the North and Scotland, and there is an identified need to connect to HS1 to provide through services to the South East and the continent, a new east-west connection to HS1 could be built, linking Old Oak Common in west London and Stratford International in East London, possibly via Euston Cross - a double-ended underground station between Euston and Kings Cross alongside the proposed Crossrail 2 station.
To achieve a viable business case, HS1 Javelin services would be extended to Milton Keynes and Northampton and HS2 services to serve Stratford International, Ebbsfleet and Ashford so providing links to Kent and direct International Eurostar connections from HS2 to Paris and Brussels without additional security and customs and immigration locations in central London.
London St Pancras in November 2007. High Speed 1 is now used by Eurostar from France, Belgium and the Netherlands and Southeastern Javelins from Kent. Railfuture looks forward to regular direct through services to Koln and Frankfurt, and extension of domestic services to Hastings and Eastbourne.
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