Government has announced a study to extend the HS2 High speed railway to Scotland following Parliamentary approval last night for funding the first two stages of the £42.6Bn project.
MP’s overwhelmingly backed the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill at its third reading stage which releases money to pay for surveys, to buy property and to compensate evicted residents. Feared opposition from Labour MP’s after allegations of mismanagement over a cost escalation from £32.7Bn to £42.6Bn failed to materialise.
A government report on Tuesday lowered the estimate of hoped for benefits from constructing HS2 from £2.50 to £2.30 for every pound invested. But Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh told MP’s that Labour supports the project because capacity problems on the railways had to be addressed. She said costs had been driven up by government mismanagement and Prime Minister David Cameron should: “Get a grip on this project, get control of the budget and get it back on track.’
The HS2 project will see lines built between Birmingham and London, with first stage work starting on site in 2017 for completion in 2026, and a second stage building separate tracks from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds between 2032 and 2033.
Work on extending the high speed line to Scotland would start when the first stage opens in 2026. Existing plans will reduce the journey time from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow by about 20 minutes compared to the fastest trains today. At present the fastest London to Edinburgh train takes four hours, with an average of four and a half hours for others. London to Glasgow takes four hours eight minutes, with others averaging between four hours 30minutes and four hours 40.
The new study on extending HS2 to other parts of Northern England and Scotland will investigate claims that extending HS2 would reduce journey times to Glasgow and Edinburgh to three hours or less. Options include upgrading existing lines as well as extending the high speed line. HS2 Ltd will report on the findings of the study to the Department for Transport in July next year.