Shropshire Star

What is the impact of cutting HS2 north of Birmingham?

The PA news agency answers 13 key questions on the situation.

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HS2 contractors excavate an area below a newly replaced section of the Aylsebury to Princes Risborough branch line track which will allow the high speed rail to pass underneath, during a tour of the construction site of a new railway bridge in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, which will allow HS2 to be built beneath the line between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough

The Prime Minister has axed plans to extend HS2 beyond Birmingham.

Here the PA news agency answers 13 key questions on the situation:

– Are there doubts about Phase 1 between London and Birmingham?

The only current uncertainty is whether Old Oak Common in London’s western suburbs will be the permanent terminus in the capital or whether the line will reach Euston.

The construction site for the HS2 high-speed rail scheme in Euston, London
The construction site for the HS2 high-speed rail scheme in Euston, London (Victoria Jones/PA)

– What was the plan for HS2 north of Birmingham?

In Phase 2a, the high-speed railway was due to be extended from the West Midlands to Crewe.

It was then due to be built up to Manchester in Phase 2b, and to the East Midlands in another phase.

– Where will HS2 trains run now Phases 2a and 2b are cut?

Trains will serve central Birmingham on high-speed lines and connect to the West Coast Main Line (WCML) at the Handsacre Link in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

They will then call at locations such as Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland.

– What about plans for HS2 trains to serve the East Midlands and Yorkshire?

They have been scrapped.

– What is the problem with having HS2 trains on the WCML?

One of the main reasons HS2 was designed was to remove intercity trains from the WCML, which has very little spare capacity.

This would enable more stopping services and freight trains to run on the WCML.

That will not happen north of Birmingham without HS2.

HS2 network
(PA Graphics)

– Does this affect drivers?

The failure to provide more capacity for freight trains means benefits from reductions in road congestion will be lost.

– What about journey times?

Journey times between London Euston and Manchester were expected to be cut from around two hours and six minutes today to around one hour and 41 minutes under Phase 1 of HS2, although the initial London terminus will be Old Oak Common.

They were due to be slashed again to just one hour and 11 minutes once Phase 2b was completed.

For the Birmingham-Manchester route, journey times were due to be reduced from around one hour and 26 minutes today to just 41 minutes under Phase 2b.

– Has HS2 work started north of Birmingham?

HS2 project
The site of the Birmingham High Speed Railway construction site at Curzon Street in Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

Phase 1 of HS2 includes a 19-mile section of route between Curdworth in Warwickshire and Handsacre, Staffordshire.

Some of this work has been paused since March, but much of the construction continues.

Recent examples include two bridges being installed near Lichfield, Staffordshire.

– What about Phases 2a and 2b?

Preparatory work for Phase 2a is ongoing, while some residents on the Phase 2b route have already voluntarily sold their homes to HS2 Ltd.

– How much has been spent on Phases 2a and 2b?

In an update to Parliament on June 19, rail minister Huw Merriman said £900 million had been spent on Phase 2a, and £700 million on Phase 2b.

An anti-HS2 sign
Some residents on the Phase 2b route have already voluntarily sold their homes to HS2 Ltd (PA)

– What is Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR)?

It is a plan to improve east-west rail connections across the North.

– How is it linked to HS2?

NPR and HS2 were being designed so trains would run between the two networks and on to the wider railway system.

NPR was set to rely on some infrastructure built by HS2, including for a complicated section through central Manchester.

Scrapping HS2 north of Birmingham puts the finances of NPR in doubt.

– What about rail improvements in other parts of the country?

Progress on East West Rail – a scheme to re-establish a rail link between Cambridge and Oxford – is ongoing.

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