High Speed 2

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High Speed Two (HS2) LtdOpenCorporates-sm.svg is a non-departmental public body established by the Department for Transport to develop, build, and operate a high speed rail network to link London, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and onwards, to services on the existing rail network, with ~553 km of track.

  • Phase One: between London and the West Midlands, with the first services commencing in 2028. The demolition of 400+ houses along the route,ref and 6 Grade II listed buildings being impacted.ref
  • Phase Two:
    • (a) West Midlands to Crewe section, commencing in 2027;
    • (b) Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds, due to commence in 2033.

Objectives

Dept. for Transport, Jun.2017[1]
Connectivity: To make it easier to travel by adding additional capacity to the existing, overstretched network, and to improve connectivity between towns and cities, particularly in the Midlands and the North, by cutting journey times and improving reliability.
Economy: By better connecting cities and regions across the UK, HS2 will open up new markets for businesses, helping to improve national productivity in line with the govt's National Industrial Strategy.[1]
Jobs: HS2 will create approximately 25,000 jobs across the construction industry and supply chain, followed by employment opportunities from operating the railway. To help people to improve their skills, around ~2,000 apprenticeships will be offered, as well as courses at the National College for High Speed Rail.[2]

Environmental Impact: The Woodland Trust asserts that 142 ancient woodlands will suffer.ref The govt's compensatory tree and bush planting scheme was dismissed as "Greenwash nonsense".ref

CO2 Emissions: faster trains use more energy; emissions for a London — Edinburgh journey would be doubled per passenger.ref,ref

Contractors: HS2 Ltd employs specialist suppliers and contractors to perform the services and works: Carillion plc, engineering group Kier Group plc, Overseas Ltd (struck off Jul.2017), French construction company Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Costain Group plc, and Balfour Beatty plc.ref, ref
Australian Lendlease Corporation Ltd has been selected as the Euston Master Development Partner, to lead the development of the 54 hectare station site. AR-Mar.2018

A Concorde Solution?

Aug.2019
Conservatives (Johnson)
The govt announced that it was commissioning an independent review of the project,ref chaired by ex-chairman of HS2 Douglas Oakervee, with terms of reference published by the DfT.ref Work on the project will proceed as normal while the review is undertaken.ref
Oct.2018£55.7 bn. PwC was commissioned by HS2 Ltd to compare the cost of building the line in England with that in 32 other countries. They concluded that HS2 was around 25% higher than the international average because of (a) the higher population density; (b) the cost of land; and (c) the line will run directly into city centres instead of joining existing networks on the outskirts. Lord Berkeley said that 25% was a gross underestimate.ref
Feb.2017
Conservatives (May)
£200bn ?? Kelvin Hopkins MP claimed that "Leaks from inside the HS2 bureaucracy suggests the total cost of HS2 will be over £200bn". Stop HS2 Campaign said "It has been clear since the outset that HS2 has got this far because the contractors who want to build it have lobbied hard for it, creating an illusionary imperative which has suckered politicians who are too lazy to do their own research and understand the case for this project is completely fictitious".ref
May.2016£55.7 bn. Jeremy Heywood and HM Treasury officials conducted an urgent review, to see if any cost-cutting could be done. The Treasury said that DfT oversight of the project "is not working". The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee "savagely attacked" HS2 for major failings in its engagement with residents affected by the scheme, a view supported by HS2's own international review.ref
Nov.2015
Conservatives (Cameron)
It is absolutely clear that HS2 Ltd and the govt have not been truthful. The Autumn Statement increased costs to £55.6bn, justified as accounting for inflation; but an FOI request showed Phase 2's costs had gone up by 39.2%, with the overall costs kept down by reducing the estimate for rolling stock.ref,ref
Jul.2015The European Commission agreed to fund 50% of the ground investigation works for Phase 1, estimated at just over €78m.ref
Mar.2014£55.3. The £700m link between HS1 and HS2 was dropped on cost grounds.ref
May.2014 Fraud: HS2 Ltd regularly paid contractors significantly more than the value of their tenders. It was revealed that a set of professional services contracts valued at £101m had come in 86% over-budget at £188m. The latest example of lack of budgetary control is the revelation that CH2M Hill were paid £34m more than the value of their contract. CH2M Hill is the firm that current HS2 Ltd boss Roy Hill is on secondment from, and his replacement Mark Thurrock is employed by. When that contract was awarded in 2012, it was valued at £70m, but a written answer revealed the company has been paid £104m, a 49% increase.ref
2014£56bn, partly due to the rise in cost of public sector construction contracts increasing by 13%. ref
Aug.2013The Institute of Economic Affairs estimated that the final cost will be over £80bn.ref Treasury insiders put the overall cost at £73bn.ref
Jul.2013Pie in the Sky. Peter Mandelson admitted that the inception of HS2 was "politically driven" to "paint an upbeat view of the future" following the 2008 Financial Crash. He further admitted that the original cost estimates were "almost entirely speculative" and that "[p]erhaps the most glaring gap in the analysis presented to us at the time were the alternative ways of spending £30bn.ref
Jun.2013£42.6bn. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that design changes to the route, including tunnelling through parts of the Chilterns to placate opposition, accounted for some of the budget rises.ref
Apr.2011
Cons/LibDem (Cameron/Clegg)
£32bn. Philip Hammond acknowledged that peak time tickets would remain unaffordable to many. However, he said this was an important way to manage demand and that cheaper fares would be available at other times. The govt expects HS2 will cost £32bn to build, provide £43.7bn of economic benefits, and generate £27bn in fares, over the next 30 years.ref
Mar.2010
Labour (Brown)
£30bn. Transport Secretary Lord Adonis announced plans for a new high-speed rail network, which would create 10,000 jobs. The DfT estimated the cost to be £30bn, funded by the govt with the Manchester Airport station locally funded.ref

Articles

  • Nov.04.2020: HS2 ‘on track to cost taxpayer £170bn’. Lord Berkeley, deputy head of the govt review, said the existing £98 billion upper budget was an underestimate and that more taxpayer funding would be needed. A longstanding HS2 critic, Berkeley renewed his calls to “cut down the scope and cost” of the line, diverting the savings to upgrade existing railways in the Midlands and the north of England. However, the govt criticised the conclusions, arguing that no evidence had been presented to justify the £170bn figure and insisting that HS2 would be built within its revised budget. The previous budget of £56bn has now been set to £72bn - £98bn, with the northern leg beyond Birmingham being subject to a further review. Lord Berkeley said: “The HS2 gravy train goes on.” The Guardian.
  • Dec.01.2018: Sir Terry Morgan is facing the sack as HS2 chairman after four months. Morgan is to be dismissed due to concerns over his stewardship of Europe’s biggest infrastructure project. He is also likely to lose his job as the chairman of Crossrail, the £15 bn east-west rail link through London, after the project ran almost £1bn over budget and almost a year late. Former chief executive of Tube Lines, a public-private partnership managing part of the London Underground. Chris Grayling praised Morgan's appointment. It is believed that pressure to sack him has come from Grayling and Philip Hammond, the chancellor. Simon Kirby resigned as chief executive in late 2016 amid controversy over unauthorised redundancy payments, with Stephen Allen, the finance director, leaving in Oct.2017. In Sept. this year Paul Griffiths, managing director of phase 2 of HS2, quit 24 hours after The Times reported that the legislation to make way for the northern leg was being delayed by a year. Graeme Paton, Kate Devlin, The Times. See also HS2 chair expects to be sacked – less than five months into role.
  • Nov.18.2018: HS2 project delayed by a year as budget balloons. The £56bn HS2 rail line is expected to be delayed by more than a year after it emerged that the building project was at risk of soaring over budget. Sources said costs for the “main works civil contracts” on the London-to-Birmingham stretch had come in “several £billion” over the official budget of £6.6bn. Andrew Gilligan, John Collingridge, The Times.
  • Nov.14.2018: £7bn cut urged as HS2 costs dwarf rival schemes. Ministers are under pressure to impose cutbacks to HS2 after a report warned that it would cost more than double that of other high-speed rail projects - £81m per kilometre compared with £32m for 20 comparable schemes elsewhere in Europe. It said that HS2 Ltd, the govt-owned company running the project, could cut its budget by 27%. The warnings come after repeated claims that the budget was at risk of getting out of control. PWC was commissioned by HM Treasury and the Department for Transport to examine how HS2 could “learn from international experience” to cut costs during Phase Two. Graeme Paton, The Times.
  • Oct.16.2018: Delays to Crossrail "could push HS2 off track". a report by the Construction Products Association has warned that a 9-month delay to the Crossral line could have a a significant impact on HS2. The hold-up may also affect the construction industry’s ability to deliver other infrastructure projects including Hinkley Point C. It said that inflation could “exacerbate” pressures on HS2’s budget, pushing the cost above the £55.7bn forecast. Esther McVey told her constituents in Nov.2017 that the total cost of HS2 could rise to more than £100bn. HS2 will need the demolition of almost 1,000 businesses and 900 homes. High Speed Two, the govt-owned company behind the project, has said that it is on time and on budget. Graeme Paton, The Times.
  • Sept.04.2018: HS2 boss quits as northern section delayed for a year. The head of the northern section of HS2 is to quit as it emerged that legislation to build the line to Manchester and Leeds would be delayed by a year. Paul Griffiths, managing director of Phase 2 of the £56bn project, will leave HS2 at the end of the year. He is the latest in a string of senior personnel to leave the govt-owned company that is building the line. The previous chief executive resigned at the end of 2016 and this summer a new chairman was appointed. MPs criticised the delay as a “poor start to the new parliamentary year” for Chris Grayling, the transport secretary. Mr Griffiths joined HS2 in 2015 and had been given the job of working with the govt to develop the groundwork for the northern section. He is leaving to become head of a $40bn programme to improve public transport across Toronto in Canada. The former chief executive of Crossrail criticised the delay to the east-west line through the capital. Rob Holden, who led the project from 2009 to 2011, blamed it on a decision to delay the purchase of new trains 7 years ago. Graeme Paton, The Times.
  • Aug.09.2018: The HS2 rail project is out of date and out of control. But it can still be halted. Britain is cutting care homes and children’s centres, yet blowing £80bn on a railway line that has failed every viability test. Vanity projects are like foreign wars. They ensnare politicians and drive them mad. A high-speed rail track from London to Birmingham and beyond was first sold to David Cameron in 2009 as a glamorous alternative to a 3rd runway at Heathrow, which he had pledged never to build. HS2 was stupid then, and has grown ever stupider ever since. This week the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission admitted that, to make transport sense, HS2 needs an extra £43bn adding to its budget. This budget is still fancifully put by the Department for Transport at £56bn, but is variously estimated by the Treasury and others at £80bn to £100bn. The taypayer-owned #HS2 Ltd is a classic para-statal: a collage of trapped ministers, unaccountable officials, a bottomless budget and no risk. What is more, HS2 can pay itself what it likes - 25% of the 1,346 staff were revealed this week as earning more than £100,000, with 15 more than £250,000. This was approved by Treasury secretary, Liz Truss, whose boss Philip Hammond is hamstrung by having also approved HS2 as transport secretary in 2010. Meanwhile, the company’s soaring consultancy bill also doubled last year to a staggering £600m, including £21m in one year on “environment consultants”. This train has already committed more than £10bn of public money to itself, without a yard of track laid. It is out of control. It makes Trident look a bargain. When Labour’s then transport secretary, Andrew Adonis, embarked on HS2 in 2009, it was in defiance of the 2006 Eddington report, which dismissed high-speed as outdated, voracious of energy and with poor rates of return. Ministers should “avoid wasting time and money pursuing alluring new super-high-speed rail networks … that might prove difficult and unpopular to stop”. Yet HS2 was expensively engineered to go at an implausible 250mph, double the fuel-efficient maximum. Worse, the new line will not connect. The project is now starting to eat money the rest of the railway networks needs. It would make more sense to upgrade the east coast line to Scotland and link it to HS1 at St Pancras. It would make more sense to build, or at least upgrade, a line across the north from Manchester to Leeds. It would be more economic by far to improve the congested motorway network. Just 2% of passenger trips are nowadays by rail – or 8% by distance – and a minuscule percentage of freight ones. Like it or not, roads are the lifeline of the economy. High-speed rail is irrelevant. ... HS2 has failed every Treasury and National Audit Office viability test. No thinktank or transport expert considers it the best use of transport money. Yet such is the power of a private sector lobby for available public money – from HS2's contractors, consultants, train builders, even the CBI – that no minister has dared stop it. HS2 has become Concorde on wheels. Can anything be done? The answer is anything unbuilt can be cancelled. Better by far – as Adonis has proposed – would be to cut HS2’s losses and bring it to a halt in west London. The sums being squandered on this fiasco must crush the spirits of those crying out for public investment. Every year Hammond demands cuts to local buses, adult care homes, children’s centres, drug rehabilitation, libraries. It may be unfair to compare spending projects. But when austerity is the order of the day, pet ministerial projects can claim immunity. Given his treatment of others, how can Hammond defend what he is blowing on HS2? It is just a rich toy for rich boys, and he knows it. Simon Jenkins, The Guardian.
  • Feb.19.2018: Transport secretary wins injunction to stop HS2 protesters. The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has been granted an injunction banning campaigners opposed to the construction of the HS2 line on an area of ancient woodland in west London from “unlawful protest” on the site. The protesters say they are trying to save up to 100 acres of ancient woodlands – an area of natural beauty that can never be replaced – and 2,400 different species of flora and fauna. Paul Powlesland, barrister, said "It's part of a growing trend for companies to use injunctions and private law remedies against political protesters". Costs are escalating and the project has been billed as the world's most expensive railway development. The first phase is costing £24bn, which is forecast to rise to £56bn for the whole scheme. Jonathan Bartley, the Green Party co-leader, said: "Today we saw an attack on the democratic right to peaceful protest right from the top of govt. But the campaign against HS2 will not be silenced". Diane Taylor, The Guardian.

Associated Organisations

  • Stop HS2, the national grassroots campaign against HS2.
  • 51M, a group of 17 local authorities that has joined together in a national campaign to actively challenge the HS2 rail project.
  • HS2 Action Alliance believes the evidence and arguments show that HS2 is a hugely flawed project.

References

  1. ^ a b HS2 Ltd Corporate Plan: 2017 to 2020. High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, Gov.uk, Jul.17.2017.
  2. ^ New high speed rail college to be in Birmingham and Doncaster. The new National College for High Speed Rail will provide specialist vocational training to the next generation of engineers working on HS2 and beyond. Up to 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities will be created by HS2, and there will be around 25,000 people employed during construction. Gov.uk, Sept.30.2014.