Government and the construction industry generally have given strong support to High Speed 2 (HS2) chairman Sir David Higgins’ proposal to accelerate Phase Two of the £50Bn project and deliver the benefits sooner than originally planned.
Other key proposals in a report on the project by Sir David are for a more comprehensive redevelopment of London’s Euston Station which Sir David said is ‘a mess’ and to scrap the proposed £700 million link between HS1 and HS2.
In response to Sir David’s report Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin backed all of Sir David’s key recommendations. He said the Department for Transport’s priority must be to get the benefits to the midlands and the north as soon as possible.
Sir David claimed that this could be done by taking the line 43 miles further north than planned in Phase One to a new transport hub at Crewe which could be completed by 2027, six years earlier than planned.
Mr McLoughlin said “Our proposals must stand the test of time and we must put our money where it will do the most good.”
CBI Chief Policy Director Katja Hall said: “HS2 will connect eight of our ten largest cities and boost local economies along the route, and the proposed interchange at Crewe is particularly good news for the north.”
Si David included a number of other proposals in his report, including that the current proposed HS1/HS2 link is: “sub-optimal and should be reconsidered.” Mr McLoughlin agreed, saying: “The link requires too many compromises in terms of impacts on freight, passengers and the community in Camden. I, therefore, intend to take the necessary steps to remove the link from the Bill.”
“I will also commission a study into ways to improve connections to the continent that could be implemented once the initial stages of HS2 are complete,” he added.
Sir David also concluded that Government should look at a more comprehensive redevelopment of Euston station and that on Phase Two HS2 should be fully integrated into regeneration plans by local authorities across the north.
Mr McLoughlin said Euston represents a significant opportunity to maximise the economic potential of the line, regenerate a site that has been neglected and generate private sector investment.