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Government throws weight behind £33bn HS2 railway

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Transport Secretary Justine Greening has given the go-ahead to build the controversial High Speed 2 (HS2) rail network, a project expected to cost £32.7 billion

In a ministerial statement issued this morning, the new head of the Department for Transport said she had decided to pursue the project after one of the largest national consultations ever undertaken, reported sister title Construction News.

Greening said:  ‘I have decided Britain should embark upon the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways by supporting the development and delivery of a new national high speed rail network.

‘By following in the footsteps of the 19th century railway pioneers, the government is signalling its commitment to providing 21st century infrastructure and connections – laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable economic growth.’

Under the plans HS2 will initially connect London to Birmingham, before going on to reach Leeds and Manchester. Links with Heathrow Airport and HS1 are also planned.

Glenn Howells is designing the Birmingham HS2 train station at Curzon Street, while Terry Farrell and Partners has worked on a scheme to transform Euston into a new ‘super-station’ and HS2 terminal. The company is also working on a masterplan for the regeneration of Old Oak Common in west London where HS2 trains will also be stopping.

The first phase of construction, the line from London to Birmingham, is expected to open in 2026, followed in 2032-33 by legs to Manchester, Leeds and Heathrow.

The capital cost at 2011 prices for the entire Y shaped network is £32.7 billion.

The government estimates the line will generate wider economic benefits of up to £47billion and fare revenues of £34 billion over a 60-year period.

Greening said: ‘The benefits of HS2 will extend beyond the network itself; links to current lines will enable direct trains to run to cities such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh and, with long-distance services transferring to the new network, space will be freed up for new commuter, regional and freight services on other lines, opening up new opportunities for Britain’s existing railways. Links to key urban transport networks, such as Crossrail, will help to spread the benefits further still.’

In the face of stiff opposition from Conservative held constituencies, particularly in the Chilterns, Greening also announced a series of changes to mitigate the new line’s impact on local communities along the route.

The changes mean that more than half the route will now go through tunnels.

The changes include:

  • A longer, continuous tunnel from Little Missenden to the M25 through the Chilterns;
  • A new 2.75 mile bored tunnel along the Northolt Corridor to entirely avoid major works to the Chilterns Line and impacts on local communities in the Ruislip area;
  • A longer green tunnel past Chipping Warden and Aston Le Walls, and to curve the route to avoid a cluster of important heritage sites around Edgcote;
  • A longer green tunnel to significantly reduce impacts around Wendover, and an extension to the green tunnel at South Heath.

The changes are designed to halve the number of people who will be affected by increased noise pollution from the line.

 

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