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House of Lords inquiry over HS2 economic benefits

A house of Lords committee has launched an inquiry into the economic case behind the proposed High speed 2 rail project.

The inquiry will consider the economic benefits of the scheme and whether London will be the main beneficiary. It will investigate the likely benefits of HS2 to our region and whether some parts of the country could lose out from the scheme.

Read: HS2 Boss: Train will benefit wider transport network

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Protestors at Parliament for HS2 vote

HS2 protestors outside parliament Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Protestors were outside parliament today as MPs vote again on the controversial high-speed rail project between London and Yorkshire. Around thirty Conservative MPs are expected to rebel against the government this evening, with concerns about the cost and route of HS2.

But the bill is likely to pass anyway, thanks to Labour support.

Tory MPs look to block HS2

Two Tory MPs are seeking to block laws that would pave the way for the controversial £50 million High Speed 2 railway, saying the line does not allow for construction to start from Leeds and Manchester.

HS2 artist impression
HS2 artist impression

Former minister Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) and ex-whip Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) have tabled an amendment calling on the Government to bring forward a cheaper and more environmentally "sympathetic" route.

They warn the line as set out in the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill is "significantly more costly" than it need be to reduce damage to the environment.

They also want MPs to stop the Bill from receiving a second reading as they say it fails to connect to HS1 and the Channel Tunnel, lacks public transport to disperse passengers at Euston and does not offer direct connections to existing major mainline train stations.

The rail route also fails to connect to potential airport hubs in London and the South East, according to the amendment.

People whose homes are blighted by the route or are subject to compulsory purchase orders are provided with "inadequate" compensation by the Bill, the MPs say.

The duo add the line is "insensitively routed" through previously unspoiled countryside, which will cause unnecessary damage to wildlife habits, waterways and ancient woodlands, plus does not allow for construction work to begin from Manchester and Leeds.

Sir Edward and Mr Fabricant do recognise there is a need for more north-south services to ease congestion on the West Coast Mainline and improve links between London and major cities.

The Bill is scheduled to have its second reading in the Commons on April 28, the first day after the Easter recess.

The HS2 link between London, the Midlands and the North of England is expected to cost £42.6 billion, which includes contingencies, with £7.5 billion for the trains.

Plan starts to address 'Londoncentric' system, says HS2 boss

The new boss of the controversial high-speed HS2 rail project says he wants it completed three years earlier than planned to bring economic benefits quicker to our region.

Sir David Higgins says improvements to the existing network are vital to compliment and feed into the proposed new HS2 stations in Leeds and at Meadowhall in South Yorkshire.

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North 'faces lost decade' if HS2 boss ignored

The potential HS2 train design.
The potential HS2 train design. Credit: HS2/PA Wire

The north will face a "lost decade of growth" if recommendations to extend the early phase of HS2 are not accepted by politicians, a major rail union says.

Following Sir David Higgins' call to extend phase one of the project to Crewe, TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: "Sir David is absolutely right - we cannot, as a country, take the slow line to a high-speed rail future.

"We need to make sure that the north benefits as quickly as the Midlands and the South from this huge investment.

The alternative, he said, is a "lost decade of growth while the South East powers ahead of the rest of the country with the lion's share of the budget".

"The £50 billion investment must benefit the whole country if it is to help re-balance the economy," Mr Cortes added.

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high-speed rail service

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HS2 boss: Rail demand 'growing at about 5% per annum'

Demand on Britain's rail service is "growing at 5%" every year, the chief executive of HS2 told Daybreak.

Sir David Higgins said a completed HS2 line would cure a multitude of economic woes, including creating jobs, lure more businesses to the north and help create more space for passengers.

"No new railway lines north of London in 100 years - why should we put up with that? It's not fair on jobs that are created in the region."

HS2 fares to be similar to regular fares

Fares on the £50 billion HS2 high-speed line must be affordable and should be "broadly comparable" to those charged on other lines, rail industry chiefs said today.

Artist Impression

There have been concerns that premium fares will be charged for those using the new high-speed line which is due to open in 2026.

Today, rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said "setting fares at the right level" was one of its five key priorities for HS2.

The RDG went on: "Prices should be broadly comparable with those on other sections of the network to ensure the new services are affordable and encourage more rail travel on HS2 and across the existing railway.

"Tickets for HS2 should be sold through the same national retailing outlets as for the existing network."

Legislation for the first phase is currently going through Parliament, with a second, Y-shaped, phase, taking the line to north west and north east England due to be completed around 2032/33.

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