'Milestone' for HS2 as Parliament receives biggest ever bill
The largest bill ever drafted - effectively the planning application for the HS2 rail link between London and Birmingham - goes before Parliament later today (25 November)
It is understood the huge document, which sets out the exact route for the first phase of the high-speed railway, will also contain the biggest environmental impact assessment report.
According to The Guardian, the hybrid bill outlines how 23 per cent of the line between London and the West Midlands will be in tunnels while 32 per cent will be sunk into the ground and run through cuttings.
The coalition wants the bill approved before the next general election in 2015 allowing construction work to begin in 2016-17 for a scheduled 2026 opening. Once complete the link will shave 49 minutes off the journey time between the capital and Birmingham.
Later stages of the contentious £50 billion project will see travel times between Manchester and London cut by an hour and between Leeds and London reduced by 48 minutes. The scheme was recently praised by Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, as a way to rebalance the north-south split in the economy.
Among the architects working on HS2-related schemes are: Arup and Grimshaw, the design team behind the route’s new terminus at Euston station; Bennetts Associates, which is looking at the potential overhaul of Manchester’s Piccadilly Station and the surrounding areas; and Glenn Howells Architects, which has drawn up initial plans for a new terminal at Curzon Street in Birmingham.
Responding to the publication of the bill Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, said: ‘This bill is a key milestone in delivering an important piece of national infrastructure investment.
‘HS2 will tackle the looming capacity crunch on the West Coast mainline, connect some of our biggest cities and bring significant economic benefits. We would urge politicians on both sides of the House to back this important project.’
Julian Lipscombe of Bennetts Associates:
‘Thus far with HS2 there has been much media attention on the attributes and challenges of the route itself but little on the regenerative effect of its arrival at the locations served.
‘Our work in Manchester, for the City Council and TfGM, demonstrates that the potential for this is very significant indeed; rebirth of a 140 acre tract of land which equates to 14 per cent of the city centre and is twice as big as Kings Cross Central.
‘We are also playing back to HS2 Manchester’s expectation of what Piccadilly Station should become, namely a comprehensive intermodal hub of the highest architectural quality as befitting a city of international significance.’