New plan revealed by HS2 chairman
A ‘sooner and better’ HS2 plan is advocated in ‘HS2 Plus’, a report by Sir David Higgins, the new chairman of HS2 Ltd, published on 17 March. He calls for:
- a more comprehensive redevelopment of London Euston station;
- HS2 to reach a major transport hub at Crewe by 2027, six years earlier than planned;
- reconsideration of the ‘sub-optimal’ link proposed between HS2 and HS1;
- better integration of HS2 and an improved rail network, and integration of HS2 into regeneration in the North.
He says the whole of HS2 could be completed up to three years earlier than planned, by 2030.
‘HS2 can change the status quo’, says Mr Highins. ‘It can address the underlying issues in a way that no other infrastructure project has done or can do. Whether it is congestion in the South; the disincentive that the journey time to London poses for companies contemplating establishing their businesses in the North; or the poor east-west connectivity that appears to inhibit trade, commerce and development, HS2 can help resolve those issues’
The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, responded to David Higgins’ HS2 Plus report by commissioning HS2 Ltd and Network Rail to undertake work on the Crewe proposals, and on integrating decision-making with Network Rail improvements to the existing network during Control Period 6 (2019 to 2024) – the results are to be considered along with consultation responses on HS2 Phase Two.
He also wants them to develop more comprehensive proposals for the redevelopment of Euston, working with the rail industry and the local community.
‘This work should include proposals for the Euston Arch which should never have been knocked down and which I would like to see rebuilt,’ said Mr McLoughlin.
He intends to remove the HS2-HS1 link from the HS2 Parliamentary Bill and withdraw its safeguarding – and also to commission a study into ways to improve connections to the continent that could be implemented when initial stages of HS2 are complete.
‘Our priority must be to get the benefits to the midlands and the north as soon as possible. Our proposals must stand the test of time and we must put our money where it will do the most good. Sir David is clear that he does not think the existing proposals for the HS2-HS1 link meet those tests,’ said Mr McLoughlin.
‘HS2 is a project that will be built over many parliaments and will serve people for many generations. We must design it carefully and build it correctly. The government is keen to rise to the challenge and we hope that hon members on all sides of the House will do the same.’