HS2's second phase - five things you need to know
Opponents are up in arms, but the government says HS2's £33 billion second phase will boost economy
TRAVELLERS will be able to get from London to Manchester in just over an hour once the second phase of the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link announced today is completed in 2032. The 211-mile extension northwards from Birmingham will cost an estimated £32.7 billion and will be finished six years after the first phase connecting London to Birmingham. Here are five things you need to know about the plan:
The route: The first phase of HS2 runs from London to Birmingham. The second phase is Y-shaped with trains running northwards from Birmingham on two spurs: one to Manchester, the other to Leeds via Sheffield. Included in the plan is a "dedicated HS2 link" at Crewe which will allow conventional trains from Liverpool and Edinburgh to connect to the high-speed service and help slash the journey times from those cities to the capital.
The stations: The new service will make five stops north of Birmingham. The new stations are Manchester, alongside Piccadilly station; Manchester Airport, at the interchange by the M56 between Warburton Green and Davenport Green; East Midlands, at Toton Sidings; Sheffield, at Meadowhall shopping centre and Leeds, at New Lane in the South bank area.
The benefits: Chancellor George Osborne described HS2 today as "the engine for growth in the north and the midlands". He said the service would create jobs, revive a stagnant economy and "unlock" investment in some of the UK’s biggest cities. Trains will travel at up to 250 mph on the new lines, so journey times will be slashed. The trip from Birmingham to Manchester will be almost halved to 41 minutes and it will take an hour and eight minutes from London to Manchester (down from two hours and eight minutes).
The dates: The first phase of HS2 – London to Birmingham - is expected to be finished in 2026. The second phase will open six years later in 2032.
The stink: The first phase of HS2 has already faced "considerable opposition" from more than 70 pressure groups. A total of 18 councils along the route claim that taxpayers cannot afford the line and it will increase greenhouse gas emissions. Opponents also say the new service will blight large areas of picturesque countryside and there are simply better ways to spend the money. All of these complaints are likely to be amplified by today’s announcement of the second phase – especially among Tory MPs and councils, because the new lines pass though Conservative heartlands. There are also growing concerns among cities not connected by the high-speed link that they will lose investment to HS2-connected cities. Richard Westacott, the BBC’s transport correspondent says there are "still plenty of critics who claim the government's economic case for building a super-fast train line simply doesn't stack up" and "there are far better ways of spending £33bn to stimulate growth."