2017 marks a huge step forward for HS2

10 May, 2017

The powers to build the first phase of HS2 – linking Euston with Birmingham Curzon Street and with the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre – achieved Royal Assent on 23rd February. As the accompanying Government announcement said, we can expect construction to start this Spring.

The background chatter will be how slowly the wheels turn towards implementation, but by the standards of our European or North American peer group, this is a good rate of progress. High-speed rail in Britain had no mainstream political support until 2008. Royal Assent nine years on is a case of leaps and bounds. Read on »


We need a long term plan for the Brighton Main Line

5 April, 2017

The long-awaited Department for Transport report into the future of the Brighton Mainline was finally published last month (ref 1). It rules out the idea of a new relief route – ‘BML2’.

Dated April 2016, long-suffering commuters may well conclude that a good deal of water has passed under the Balcombe Viaduct in the meantime.

The report addresses Read on »


Navigating uncertainty in demand forecasting

27 February, 2017

A continuing complaint facing those involved in long-term infrastructure planning is the argument that it is impossible to forecast the future at all accurately. Adjustments to business case rules to counter ‘optimism bias’ were written into Treasury rules some 15 years ago. But scepticism runs deep.

One response is to point to experience. To those who doubt the likelihood that there will be continuing demand growth for HS2 to accommodate, the experience of the Virgin West Coast Trains’ franchise is relevant. The forecast made at the outset of this franchise in 1997 was for an unprecedented Read on »


2017 will be the year high-speed rail takes a great step forward in Britain

16 January, 2017

Whatever 2017 brings it will be a tremendous year for HS2, with Royal Assent to Phase 1; a start to preparatory works with over £9bn construction contracts to be let and 14,400 jobs committed in a boost to the UK economy; the National College for High Speed Rail opening in September; and the bill for powers to build Phase 2A submitted before Parliament in 2017 as well. Read on »


Phase 2b route largely confirmed, but questions remain

21 December, 2016

The latest command paper on HS2 saw the welcome confirmation of the majority of the Government’s preferred route for Phase 2b – the completion of the two legs of the Y-shaped route, from Crewe to Manchester to the west, and the West Midlands to Leeds in the east, with junctions onwards to the existing network.

The command paper marks a welcome shift in emphasis from new infrastructure to what can be achieved with it. The separate announcement of the ‘West Coast Partnership’ – the new franchise for the west coast to be let from 2019 – is also highly significant. Read on »