Greengauge 21 is a not for profit company established in 2006 to research and develop the concept of high speed rail as a national economic priority. In 2008 we established a Public Interest Group which has supported and funded a large part of Greengauge 21’s work including Fast Forward (2009) which set out our strategy for high speed rail in Britain. In 2012 we established the High-Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group to bring together industry expertise to help ensure that Britain’s high speed rail network is delivered successfully to world class standards. This short Greengauge 21 report on the consultation on the second phase of HS2 – two new lines between the Midlands and the North – points the way to further improve the value of the project – a project which already has a good business case.
Greengauge 21’s viewpoint
Along with major city and other authorities across the Midlands and the North, Greengauge 21 strongly welcomes the progress that Government is making with both phases of HS2. It is not for Greengauge 21 to comment on the detail of alignment choices, which, in particular, are for the statutory consultees and communities along the route to consider. What we can do, however, having taken the chance to review Phase 2 consultation responses that have been under discussion and published on local authority websites, is to identify some common themes. These in turn lead us to identify some opportunities to improve project outcomes – in terms of delivery timescales, service improvements and benefits, and potentially costs too. Our summary of the emerging responses of the main authorities affected by the second phase of HS2 is provided in an Annex. In summary, the main local authorities across the Midlands and the North welcome HS2 – although there are some exceptions, and there are, of course, a number of local issues of concern.
The key themes in the consultation responses
There are four recurrent points made which are worth noting because of their importance for the way HS2 is progressed:
- The ambition that HS2 should be developed ‘from north to south’ – rather than as some see it ‘from London northwards’
- Related to this, a wish to see an earlier implementation of Phase 2 than 2032/3 – either the whole project or parts of it
- An ambition for there to be more connections with existing lines so that services can be provided to/from existing city centre stations onto the high-speed network. A particular aim is that there should be fast connections and more capacity provided using HS2 for travel between regional cities (where the existing network is often particularly weak). This would supplement HSR services to/from London, and make fuller use of the new line capacity
- A concern – especially along the eastern limb of HS2 – that the chosen station sites require significant complementary investment to provide good access – including in the case of Leeds, where fuller integration of the HS2 station with the existing station is sought.
In distilling implications from these responses, it should be recognised that the questions posed in the consultation relate to a preferred specification of the high-speed rail scheme, with an invitation to comment and where appropriate to suggest detailed changes in terms of its alignment and mitigation of its likely impacts. A further question, not explicitly covered by the consultation, but illustrated by experience elsewhere across Europe, is that it isn’t always a matter of either/or with high-speed rail but of how best to blend new high-speed infrastructure with existing lines which often then need to be upgraded and re-organised – in order to get the best overall result. We believe it is right to consider this question and, more generally, the opportunities through complementary policies and plans to maximise the benefit that HS2 brings to the nation, given the key themes in the consultation responses noted here.
Accelerating Project Delivery
Consistent with the consultation responses we have been able to review, we identify three parts of the second phase of HS2 that could and should be accelerated:
- the Crewe – Lichfield segment of the Phase 2 plan to be completed as part of the phase 1 programme (say mid 2020s), with a new integrated HSR station at Crewe itself; this will help expand the capacity relief provided by the first phase of HS2, especially for freight – meaning less lorries on our road network
- delivery and operation of the new station at Manchester Piccadilly (also mid 2020s) where the city authorities want to progress the regeneration proposals now rather than in the 2030s. This would entail HS2 services operating over the existing Crewe – Manchester line. For this to work, some significant changes to the South East Manchester suburban rail service network would be helpful, and this could sensibly include incorporation of the priority for extending the Manchester Metrolink network south and east of Manchester Piccadilly, using existing railway lines and replacing ‘heavy rail’ suburban trains – a development that will itself bring widespread benefits as have been achieved with the earlier stages of Metrolink development
- the section of HSR line north-south across Yorkshire so that relief can be delivered early to a congested and very slow section of the national rail network, offering much faster connections between Leeds and Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham (existing stations). This too will add to the wider benefits realisable on the existing network, including for ‘intermediate’ locations such as Rotherham, Barnsley and Wakefield.
Overall, this would bring much of the benefit of Phase 2 forward – and it would also widen the early benefits to the North and Midlands beyond those identified for the current scheme.
Achieving balanced benefits east and west
Also consistent with consultation responses, the East Midlands would benefit further if a connection was provided from HS2 to the Birmingham – Derby line so that Phase 1 can benefit the East Midlands cities and Sheffield and Yorkshire, as well as the West Midlands and the North West, in terms of much improved connectivity with London. This requires consideration of upgrading an existing line, but the objection to such an approach made earlier in the March 2010 Command Paper that this would trigger a need to electrify the relevant lines no longer applies: electrification is now committed. This also means that any improvements needed to accommodate HSR services on the relevant lines can be made incrementally to investment programmes already provided for.
Improving the business case by integrating HS2 fully with the existing rail network
There are two key implications to be considered. Early delivery of some parts of Phase 2 may reduce the risks and possible uncertainty associated with a single very large Hybrid Bill to secure powers for a 200 mile+ railway scheme. Instead, separate bills or use of the Transport and Works Act process with Inquiries held locally might be considered. But there are many complex issues to consider here and HS2 Ltd and DfT will want to consider these choices very carefully. Second, looking at investment in new lines and the existing network together is likely to lead to the discovery of ways to reduce overall project costs.
Connections to HS1 and Heathrow
In addition, the Department and HS2 Ltd should take the opportunity in reaching conclusions from the Phase 2 consultation to consider further how best to deliver connectivity to HS1 for international passengers using HS2. Direct access to global hub air services at Heathrow for passengers from the North and Midlands remains a fundamental issue if the potential contribution of HS2 towards rebalancing the economy north-south is to be maximised. Conclusions on this matter will need to be carefully related to the conclusions of the Davies Review in due course.
Annex: Summary of Emerging HS2 Phase 2 Consultation Responses from Local Authorities along the route
This annex is our own summary of key points from emerging local authority responses to the HS2 Phase 2 consultation, sourced from council meeting and other papers published on local authority websites.
In summary: Support from the North and Midlands
- Leeds, Sheffield, Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Regions and Association of North East Councils, North Yorkshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire East express support for HS2 and stations at Leeds, Sheffield, Toton, Manchester, Manchester Airport and Crewe.
Greater use of HS2 capacity
- There is a call for north and south facing connections onto HS2 (especially on the eastern arm) to permit Javelin type services to use HS2 and access city centres (e.g. Leeds, Nottingham, Leicester, Derby). There is also a call for north facing connections between the eastern and western arms of the Y.
Alternative and additional routes
- Liverpool City Region is seeking a direct link to Liverpool.
- Warrington, Derby and Stoke propose alternative routes and hub stations central to their cities. Leicestershire also supports a station and route via Derby.
- Sheffield City Council considers a station in Sheffield City Centre outweighs a Sheffield parkway station location
- Transport for London highlight the case for the HS1-HS2 link is stronger with Phase 2 and propose a higher capacity tunnelled link.
Opposition from areas not immediately served
- Staffordshire opposes HS2 in principle and focusses on higher standards of mitigation and compensation if HS2 nevertheless goes ahead.
- Warwickshire does not agree with the route as it affords insufficient protection and mitigation.
- Wakefield favours investment in the existing rail network and other transport measures instead.
Access to HS2 stations
- Authorities are seeking fast, frequent accessibility improvements to HS2 stations (by rail, bus, tram etc.) to serve wider catchment areas (assuming HS2 goes ahead and whatever the route and generally whatever the overall position of the council).
The existing network
- There is a broad welcome for the principles for use of freed up capacity and a call for future dialogue on their development to support freight as well as passenger growth.
- There is a call for nil detriment/enhanced direct conventional services to London and other services for towns and cities currently served by conventional services and not directly on the HS2 network e.g. Bradford, Harrogate, Wakefield, Stockport, Nottingham, Derby.
- The Association of North East Councils and North Yorkshire seek assurances about improvements to the classic network and stations pending and arising from HS2
Compensation and mitigation
- High standards of compensation and mitigation are also called for.
Responses from areas served by the Eastern Arm of the Y Association of North East Councils
The response advocates a whole network approach to high speed rail and expresses concern about the lack of any current guarantee to extend high speed rail to the North East. The response seeks:
- Clearer exemplification and firmer commitment to benefits that will accrue
- Dialogue on the inter-operability of HS2 and the classic network and the benefits of released capacity
- Timescales for improvements to the East Coast Main Line and arising from HS2
North Yorkshire County Council (Executive 21st January 2014)
The draft response supports HS2 and makes the following main points:
- Build from the North
- Concern about distance between existing and proposed HS2 station at Leeds. Access needs to be seamless and minimise time and distance between the two stations
- Passenger facilities at York need to be brought up to the standard of new build HS2 stations.
- Some HS2 trains should stop at Northallerton
- Maintain investment in the existing network, in particular the East Coast Main Line and use released capacity to open up new markets e.g. Harrogate/ Scarborough-London or grow existing markets.
West Yorkshire ITA (Executive Board 13th December 2013) and Leeds City Council (Cabinet 22 January 2014)
Leeds City Region and Leeds City Council provide broad support for the site of Leeds HS2 station and the proposed route from West Midlands. The draft responses cover:
- A five point plan involving building from the North, investing early to better connect Leeds City Region towns and cities, addressing route impacts, compensation and a grip on costs.
- Bringing forward the eastern arm of the Y and the station at Leeds to accelerate benefits and alleviate uncertainty.
- An aspiration for the new station to be of the very highest quality, fully integrated with its surroundings, the existing station, public transport and road links.
- A request that alternative options for the spur into Leeds and the junction with HS2 are investigated including tunnelling. A well mitigated north facing junction onto HS2 from the Leeds spur should also be considered.
- Accessibility improvements so that the HS2 station serves the whole city region as well as possible.
- Principles for use of freed up capacity should include nil detriment for any station in terms of frequency and journey times to principal cities. Enhanced levels of direct conventional services to London from Bradford and Wakefield following the opening of HS2 (and also from Huddersfield and Halifax) are sought.
- More intensive services on the eastern arm of HS2 to bring greater benefits potentially requiring further links from HS2 to the conventional network including the possibility of Cross Country services on HS2 running between York and Birmingham via Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands.
- Quality of interchange between Euston and St Pancras and the fitness for purpose of the HS1-HS2 link merit further development
- Support for a link to Heathrow subject to Davies Commission conclusions.
The final Leeds City Region response to be discussed and agreed by Leeds CR LEP. The final Leeds City Council response delegated to the Director of City Development.
Wakefield City Council (Council meeting 29th January 2014)
http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/News/PressReleases/news/PR4441.htm Wakefield opposes the plans for HS2.
Instead the Council favours investment in the rail network in the North and other transport investment, including to the national highways network and a new Leeds City Region Airport giving better value for money and addressing the economic problems of Wakefield and the Leeds City Region.
South Yorkshire ITA (ITA meeting 9th January)
The draft response supports a station at Meadowhall with a number of essential prerequisites for it to work as a HS2 station:
- Fast connectivity to Sheffield central business district
- A station that is seamlessly connected to other modes
- A station that is rapidly accessible from across the region in a sustainable way
- A station that is integrated with the strategic highway network, and does not compromise its efficient flow.
- A single station combining HSR, classic rail, tram train, tram train, tram and bus, supported by an integrated mass transit network.
The draft response notes that HS2 infrastructure will be lightly used in Yorkshire compared to capacity in commenting on the scope for Javelin type services using HS2. Response subject to further discussion at Sheffield City Region Leaders and SCR Chief Executive meetings.
Sheffield City Council (press release 28th January 2014)
Sheffield City Council supports HS2 but strongly feels that the economic benefits of siting a station in Sheffield City Centre far outweigh a Sheffield parkway station location. Analysis for the council indicates an additional 6,000 jobs and up to £5billion more GVA would be created by a station in Sheffield city centre when compared to the proposed parkway station.
Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council (Executive Board and Transport and Highways Committee meetings respectively on 17th December and 9th January)
The draft responses support a station at Toton and set out a number of principles (plus others about compensation, mitigation etc.) to ensure that economic potential is fully realised:
- Nil detriment to existing plans to upgrade and electrify the Midland Main Line, including enhancements at Derby, Leicester & Market Harborough;
- Nil detriment to existing services and train frequencies to Nottingham Station.
- Use of existing rail capacity released by HS2 to reduce journey times and develop more regular services to and from Nottingham Station;
- Development of high quality frequent ‘classic rail’ shuttle services between the new Hub Station and Nottingham Station and to Derby and Leicester;
- Maximum access to the new Hub Station by tram, bus, walking and cycling;
- Minimum impact of the new Hub Station on local and strategic roads;
- Effective connectivity between HS2 and existing rail lines, including the option to run ‘classic compatible’ trains from Nottingham and elsewhere in the East Midlands on HS2
- Procurement processes to encourage and support the use of local employment and apprenticeships for young people living in Nottingham.
- Ensure development plans for the area around the proposed East Midlands Hub Station are integrated with local planning strategies.
The draft highlights a “strong case” for the provision of direct classic compatible rail services from Nottingham Station to Birmingham (and beyond) and from Nottingham Station to Leeds (and beyond). This would enable the development of a ‘regional high speed network’ to complement London services. For such movements to be possible there needs to be north and south facing connections onto HS2. East Midlands Councils have commissioned Arup to undertake a technical and economic assessment, which suggests the potential to add to the overall business case for HS2.
Derbyshire County Council (Cabinet 21st January 2014)
Council welcomes the economic opportunities arising from the proposed station at Toton and maintenance depot at Staveley, but at the same time recognises the route has adverse effects requiring design changes and further mitigation. The draft response reflects the potential economic benefits and the need for joint work with D2N2 to develop a long term masterplan for the wider Toton area and, linked to this, a capital programme of infrastructure investment. Key points in the response cover:
- Conventional rail services, with a priority to ensure passengers from Derbyshire stations can gain the maximum benefit from HS2
- Links between HS2 and the Midland Main Line where East Midlands Councils have identified opportunities for direct connections between HS2 and the classic network (also referred to in the Nottingham section above)
- Future development of the HS2 network including a delta junction at Lichfield enabling journeys from Toton to Manchester.
- Access improvements to Toton
Derby City Council (Cabinet meeting 22nd January)
The council supports HS2 but not the route of the eastern arm or a station at Toton. Instead the Council proposes a station and route through Derby. The suggestion is there would be higher levels of job creation and GVA in Derby and across the D2N2 LEP area than would arise from a station at Toton, although the draft response also acknowledges Toton would generate higher HS2 revenues. The suggested route through Derby is said to offer a more direct and potentially less costly route to Yorkshire. Recognising that that the Government’s proposed route and Toton may go ahead the draft response also argues for:
- north and south facing links serving Derby (and also Nottingham and Leicester) onto HS2.
- improved rail connectivity between Derby and Toton.
- the recasting of existing Cross Country and Midland Main Line services in close consultation with East Midlands authorities (and not disbenefiting Derby).
Leicestershire County Council (Cabinet 15th January 2014)
Leicestershire recognises the need to increase national rail capacity and support economic growth but take the view that a route between the West Midlands and Leeds which generally follows the A38 and M1 corridors with a station at Derby to serve the East Midlands would be preferable to the proposed route via Toton. The Council says that a station at Derby is more readily served by connecting public transport based on enhancements to existing bus and rail services and would provide better regeneration benefits to Derby and Leicester without detriment to Nottingham. The Council highlights that effective direct heavy rail access to the city centre stations at Derby, Leicester and Nottingham is vital to their economies and that Toton is not on any existing passenger line with uncertainty as to how HS2 and classic rail services will co-exist in the area. If Toton goes ahead, the Council notes options (also referred to above) for providing interconnectivity between HS2 and the existing rail network identified in studies by Arup on behalf of East Midlands Councils, and by Network Rail. The Council highlights the potential for interchange facilities between the Leicester-Birmingham Line and HS2 at Birmingham International. The Council considers the design speed of HS2 is unnecessarily high and that the alignment, land take and impact would be reduced considerably, along with cost, if a more appropriate design standard were to be adopted.
Warwickshire (Cabinet 12th December 2013)
Warwickshire does not agree with the route because it does not currently afford sufficient protection or mitigation and is pressing for greater engagement and compensation and route refinement concessions for the communities of North Warwickshire. In particular, if implemented the council is seeking a “special management zone” that will address the special circumstances surrounding the end of Phase 1 and start of Phase 2 in Warwickshire. The draft response does not consider it appropriate to comment on freed up capacity due to insufficient detail to form a view at this and also does not offer comment about access to HS2 stations.
Responses from areas served by the Western Arm of the Y Greater Manchester (Greater Manchester Combined Authority on 29th November 2013 and Transport for Greater Manchester Committee on 6th December 2013 considered principles of their draft response)
The Greater Manchester response:
- provides strong high-level support for HS2 Phase 2 in Greater Manchester, whilst recognising the need for a clear on-going dialogue with local planning authorities on specific detailed issues relating to project delivery and routing;
- welcomes and fully supports the inclusion of Manchester Piccadilly and Airport Stations;
- encourages further dialogue on the case for a revised proposition for the Manchester Piccadilly HS2 facility and access package, delivered earlier at a timescale and scope that is synchronised with Northern Hub and Metrolink works at the Station and will unlock local development proposals for up to 30,000 jobs and 4,000 houses in the adjacent city centre area;
- promotes a revised Manchester Airport Station and access package; and
- whilst the benefits to the Wigan Borough are primarily seen at be at Wigan North Western Station, HS2 also presents an opportunity to create a new interchange in the Leigh area.
The final response will be prepared by the Head of the Paid Service (Sir Howard Bernstein) and the TfGM Chief Executive in consultation with the GMCA Chair and Vice Chairs and the TfGM Chair.
Liverpool City Region (Liverpool City Region Cabinet on 22 November 2013, Merseyside ITA 5th December, LCR LEP on 5th December).
The draft response sets out:
- Liverpool City Region’s support for HS2 in view of its economic and capacity benefits for the UK
- the City Region’s aspiration for a direct HS link to Liverpool;
- the importance of improved rail capacity and connectivity for the City Region for its economic growth plans, and the need to ensure that HS2 does not prejudice these aims;
Detailed studies are being commissioned to inform the LCR’s ongoing input to HS2:
- an economic study to quantify the benefits of a direct HS2 link to Liverpool and test a range of incremental options, ranging from the planned ‘classic compatible’ connection at Crewe, to direct HS2 links into Liverpool, and covering freight as well as passenger traffic;
- through Network Rail, a technical study to understand and test engineering options to address the capacity issues raised by HS2 services using the existing rail network, especially from the point of view of freight. This will also examine constraints at Lime Street station;
- allied to the above, a review of the LCR’s rail strategies to assess the connectivity and capacity requirements that arise as a result of HS2 and other pressures and demands upon the network
The Final response to be signed off by the Mayor, the ITA Chair and the LEP Chair. Warrington Borough Council (Executive Board 13th January)
The Council is in favour of the concept of HS2 (and HS2 stations at Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly) and highlights that Warrington is in the top four cities for economic growth and the second most important investment location in the UK and that HS2 bypasses Warrington. The council also highlights the high cost of the route to the east of Warrington and wants the Government to reconsider its preferred route and develop an alternative from Crewe to Wigan with a station at Warrington (an enhanced Bank Quay Station). The draft response is also seeking other connectivity improvements for freight as well as passenger and traffic. The final response will be signed off by the Leader and Chief Executive.
Cheshire East (Cabinet meeting 7th January)
The Council supports HS2, connecting Manchester to London and serving Manchester Airport, but believes HS2 can be improved by:
- A new station and track layout for Crewe to be delivered by Network Rail by 2020 to accommodate an HS2 stop. This investment would deliver over £1.5bn of transport benefits and £1bn GVA uplift for the South Cheshire economy including 20,000 additional jobs.
- HS2 Ltd to deliver the full HS2 Hub Interchange Station at Crewe by connecting into the new station. The Hub would offer access to dedicated and classic compatible HS2 services, capturing the vast connectivity opportunity and boosting the Borough and the UK economy by up to £3bn GVA and 40,000 to 60,000 jobs.
- The section from Lichfield to Crewe to be implemented to coincide with the delivery of Phase One delivering £2bn of additional transport benefits for the case for Phase One.
- Plans for future train services with HS2 need to maintain and enhance the connectivity to other key stations at Wilmslow, Macclesfield and Congleton.
- The highest standard of compensation and mitigation
The detailed response delegated to the Director of Economic Growth and Prosperity and the Strategic communications Portfolio Holder.
Staffordshire (Cabinet 18th December 2013)
The Council opposes HS2 in principle but if imposed by Government the Council is seeking further mitigation of route impacts and measures to improve Staffordshire’s connectivity including:
- improved access to the proposed high speed rail network (by road, rail and bus).
- modifications at Crewe to maximise connectivity between classic compatible and high speed services.
- Greater use of classic compatible rail services that can serve Staffordshire stations on WCML and provide improved rail connectivity to both the north and south.
- Ensuring existing good connectivity to London is maintained should HS2 go ahead.
The Council also identifies a number of emerging themes in relation to released capacity including:
- Improved local rail services with the West Midlands
- Increased direct rail services from a greater range of destinations to Stafford and Crewe
- Improved services at evenings and weekends including higher frequencies and longer operating days
- Good interchange links to and from the proposed HS2 hub stations
- Improved rail links to airports including Birmingham, Manchester, East Midlands, Stansted, Luton and Gatwick
Final response delegated to the Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure in consultation with the Director of Place.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council (Full Council 30th January)
The City Council disagrees with the Government’s proposed route between the West Midlands and Manchester because it omits Stoke and fails to secure the maximum potential economic benefit. Instead the Council proposes a new central hub station in Stoke and a revised route north of Lichfield delivered as part of HS2 Phase 1 connecting to WCML south of Barlaston and then an upgrading of the existing WCML alignment (to 230km per hour) through and to the north of Stoke to the proposed HS2 station at Manchester Piccadilly. The proposal removes 87 km of the consultation route through Staffordshire and Cheshire and claims to provide an estimated benefit to the Stoke economy of £2.7bn+ and a shorter, quicker route to Manchester Piccadilly. The proposal also includes other route upgrades for connectivity with Liverpool, the North West and Scotland. On Manchester Airport, the Council suggests its proposal does not preclude high speed access as currently proposed but this should be subject to a business case being made and alternatively regional rail links should be strengthened.
Response from Transport for London
TfL notes that the business case is much stronger with the Phase 2 in place. The response re-emphasises:
- The need for satisfactory provision for the dispersal of passengers at Old Oak Common and Euston, undertaken as part of Phase 1 to negate the need to disrupt both areas twice.
- The currently proposed HS1-HS2 link (that impacts London Overground services) should be dropped and replaced by a dedicated higher capacity tunnelled link benefitting a range of markets.