High Speed Two: how to make it even better

15 August, 2011

New analysis published today by Greengauge 21 sets out how HS2, the proposed high-speed railway between London and the West Midlands, could be enhanced and major cost savings delivered with relatively modest refinements to the scheme.

“We fully support the development of a high-speed rail network for Britain,” said Jim Steer, Director of Greengauge 21, “and we welcome the Government proposals for HS2. The scheme as proposed already delivers good value for money, with £2 of benefits for every £1 invested. However, work that we have carried out with our Public Interest Group shows that the benefits can be expanded considerably while reducing costs.”

The Greengauge 21 report, submitted to Government in July for the HS2 consultation and published today, outlines how a connection from HS2 to the Midland Main Line could, if incorporated into the first stage of route development, provide for high-speed services to London from the East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle from the outset. In effect, this brings forward by several years some of the benefits of the proposed ‘Y-shaped’ network and ensures that the eastern side of the country as well as the North West and West Midlands will benefit in the early years.

In addition, there are better ways of designing HS2 in London. Greengauge 21 highlights in its report the good case for removing the outer suburban services from Euston station by instead routeing them into Crossrail across London. Not only would this improve the Crossrail scheme and widen access across London for passengers from north west London, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, but it would relieve the passenger demands on Euston station and the Underground network, allowing cost savings to be made in HS2 scheme design. It also offers better prospects for regeneration at the Old Oak Common area.

The report highlights other improvements that could be made to HS2 by improving the range of rail services operated and by making good use of the planned connection to HS1.

Jim Steer said, “Our preliminary estimates are that these measures could increase the benefits of HS2 by at least a third and deliver cost savings of £1billion or more. We hope that Secretary of State Philip Hammond will consider these proposals when reviewing the outcome of the consultation.”

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