What is the purpose of HS2’s Eastern Arm?

30 July, 2020

The Eastern Arm of HS2 is a critical part of an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands but its role and function can be significantly strengthened says a new report by Greengauge 21.

The report from Greengauge 21 calls for clarity on the role and function of HS2’s planned eastern arm.

“Ten years ago, the aim was to get an HS2 London-Leeds journey time to match Manchester’s”, says report co-author Jim Steer. To achieve this, trains would pass through the East Midlands and South Yorkshire non-stop. This means that the key intermediate cities of Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield would need to be served by new connections to the HS2 line, to be funded outside the HS2 project.

“The original ambition is

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High Speed Rail and Scotland

11 June, 2020

Our latest report – High Speed Rail and Scotland – shows that joining the route to Scotland would not only enhance connectivity between our two nations by cutting travel time between London and Scotland to just over three hours, it would also pave the way for a significant reduction of carbon emissions in line with the Scottish Government’s 2045 net zero target, and help to level up the north of England post Covid-19.

The report, produced for the High Speed Rail Group, sets out how through a programme of upgrades to existing lines, combined with new dedicated sections of high speed line, joining HS2 to Scotland will boost capacity and meet the projected demand for both freight and passenger travel, whilst cutting journey times to 3h10. Since 2006, passenger numbers have increased between Glasgow and London by 120%, between Manchester-Scotland by 191%, and Birmingham-Scotland by 261%.

With the Scottish Government targeting net zero by 2045 and the UK Government committing to

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The Rail Needs of the North and the Midlands

20 May, 2020

Government’s intention to develop an integrated rail plan for the North and Midlands is welcome.

This requires strategic planning, not just prioritising projects. The outcome should be a programme of rail network development designed to meet Government objectives. Today, these centre on national economy recovery and decarbonising the transport sector – both must be regarded as urgent.

Planning efforts to date, seeking to tie together HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail have been mis-guided. Creating a £80bn mega-project doesn’t address the problems on today’s network and will take at least 20 years to deliver. The Midlands and the North can’t wait that long. And it risks creating an investment gap. In our new report: Meeting Rail Needs in High Speed North we set out how this can be filled by a short and medium term programme of incremental improvements.

Projects developed pre-Covid centre on better connections between cities. Given that the railway is a network with hubs in city centres, that remains valid but it’s only part of what’s needed. There is also a Government aim to level up the economy and that means addressing places left behind – the smaller towns and cities of the North and Midlands – and not just the big cities.

With some adaptations to

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Revisiting High Speed North

4 May, 2020

Our latest report published  sets out the need to accelerate plans for a northern transport revolution, and proposes incremental rail improvements to help kick-start the North’s economy back into action.

REVISITING HIGH SPEED NORTH argues that although major rail schemes, including the second phase of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), are important and welcomed as a long-term means of levelling up the northern economy and driving change, there are serious problems to be addressed in the North’s rail network in the next 5-10 years that cannot wait for these flagship schemes. An incremental approach of upgrading the existing network needs to start straight away, designed to link up with these major projects to create High Speed North.

Taking action to address the issues in the northern rail network becomes all the more important in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. Post virus, Government will need to champion public works which are able to quickly deliver on the ground to get the economy moving and to demonstrate results on the decarbonisation and levelling up agendas.

The report is very clear that

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P-p-p-pausing Phase 2b

27 January, 2020

In Just Get HS2 Done, we urged Government to proceed with HS2 Phases 1 and 2a. We were also clear that there are problems with rail services in the North today that need addressing, not in 20 years’ time.

Leaks of the Oakervee Review of the project say that it urges Government to proceed with HS2 Phases 1 and 2a which is most welcome but that it also:

‘recommends that work on Phase 2b of the project from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds be paused for six months for a study into whether it could comprise a mix of conventional and high-speed lines instead’. (Source Financial Times, 20th January 2010)

There has been enough dither and delay already. The Oakervee Review was only due to take six weeks – and that was 6 months ago. Looking again at using existing lines (perhaps with upgrades)

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Connecting Great Britain and Northern Ireland

14 January, 2020

A bridge to Northern Ireland needs new connections and HS2 to ensure success. Our report – Connecting Great Britain and Northern Ireland – considers the benefits that a new fixed link sea crossing between Britain and Northern Ireland could achieve. With a wider package of transport investment, the project could not only deliver the kind of expected economic benefits from increased cross-Irish Sea trade, it can also deliver a significant carbon reduction dividend, reducing both long-distance road haulage of freight and short-haul air fights within the UK.
“As ever with transport systems”, Greengauge 21 Director Jim Steer points out, “transport projects don’t work in isolation but as part of a network. Getting value from an Irish Sea fixed crossing relies on land-based access links. These will have to be  added – and existing projects such as HS2 can then ensure full benefit realisation”.

© January 2020, Greengauge 21, Some Rights Reserved: We actively encourage people to use our work, and simply request that the use of any of our material is credited to Greengauge 21 in the following way: Greengauge 21, Title, Date