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HS2 report a 'cheerleading whitewash', say campaginers

The report into the viability of HS2 is a "cheerleading whitewash" and only heard from "people who support" the London to Birmingham rail link, according to activists.

Campaign manager for the Stop HS2 group Joe Rukin said:

Unlike the public accounts committee and treasury committee hearings on HS2, it was clear that this inquiry was going to be a cheerleading whitewash when the transport committee only called people who support HS2 to give evidence.

Despite the official cost of HS2 standing at £50 billion, the committee want to pretend it is £28 billion, even though they said it would be £34 billion in 2011.

In saying this and telling the DfT they should abandon their standard assessments to improve the case for HS2, they are effectively ordering the Government to 'spin harder' on HS2.

– Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin

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MPs: HS2 will meet 'growing demand' for train use

HS2 will deliver "the step change in capacity" needed to support growing demand from both passengers and freight, according to the head of the transport committee.

Chairwoman Louise Ellman said if taxpayers were to reap the full benefits of HS2, it was "vital" links were improved between regular and high-speed rail networks.

We remain confident that construction of a new high speed line is the only way to deliver the step change in capacity on the West Coast Main Line needed to accommodate long-term demand for both passengers and rail freight.

If we are to spread the benefits from HS2 as widely as possible, it is vital we improve links between the conventional and high-speed networks and bring forward projects to speed up journey times on the conventional network.

– transport select committee chairwoman louise ellman

The cost of the HS2 project

One bone of contention for anti-HS2 campaigners has been the cost of the project, with the Taxpayers' Alliance dubbing the project a "white elephant".

In June the transport secretary told the commons HS2 would go £10bn over the original budget of £33bn to cover "contingency costs".

  • The projected cost of the whole projects is now £42.6bn
  • A total of £7.5bn needed for the purchase of high-speed trains.
  • £14.56bn of the overall cost will be set aside for contingency costs.

MPs 'convinced' controversial HS2 link is 'justified'

A group of MPs are "convinced" the controversial HS2 link between London and the north is "justified" and urged the Government to consider building the second and first phases together.

Hitachi Class 395 Javelin train
A high speed train using HS1, the Channel Tunnel. Credit: PA

Abandoning the project "significantly outweigh the risks" of building it, as the high-speed rail link is "essential for the UK", according to the transport committee.

Phase one, from London to Birmingham via the Chilterns, is due for completion in 2026, with a second Y-shaped section from Birmingham to north-west and north-east England due to be finished in 2032/33.

In its report, the committee said: "Many important local issues will be debated and resolved by the (HS2) hybrid bill committee and there will be detailed debates about many aspects of the project.

"However, we are convinced that it is essential for the UK for HS2 to go ahead, and to do so as a project which has the backing of all three major political parties."

Read more: HS2 bill set for Parliament

Read more: PM orders HS2 savings review

Premier says China may invest in HS2 rail project

China's leadership said the country may invest in the controversial HS2 rail project and a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.

Speaking after talks with David Cameron on the first day of the Prime Minister's visit to China, Premier Li Keqiang said the two sides had agreed to "push for breakthroughs" on nuclear power and high-speed rail.

Prime Minister David Cameron with China's Premier Li Keqiang.
Prime Minister David Cameron with China's Premier Li Keqiang. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Mr Li said, "The Chinese side is willing to not only participate but also purchase equities and stocks in UK nuclear power projects, and the UK side is open to this idea."

Speaking ahead of his visit last week, Mr Cameron said, "In terms of HS2, I very much welcome Chinese investment into British infrastructure".

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Labour: HS2 will address 'cramped, miserable journeys'

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh has said that Labour supports the HS2 plan as it will address the need for more rail capacity across the country.

Not everyone supports the plan as seen in an anti HS2 sign in Whittington, Staffordshire.

She said: "Labour supports HS2 because we must address the capacity problems that mean thousands of commuters face cramped, miserable journeys into Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London.

"However, three years of Government delays and mismanagement has caused costs to balloon. Incompetent ministers have only just launched the consultation on phase 2 of the route, despite the fact that it was being worked on when Labour were in government."

Read: HS2 bill to be published

HS2 Bill outlines powers to turn network into reality

The HS2 Hybrid Bill that is to go before Parliament will give details on how the first phase of the high speed rail project should progress.

The High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill will provide government powers to allow the construction and operation of the railway.

It will outline powers to:

  • build and maintain the first phase of HS2 and its associated works, including secure planning permission for the works;
  • compulsorily acquire interests in the land required;
  • affect or change rights of way, including the stopping-up or diversion of highways and waterways (permanently or temporarily);
  • modify infrastructure belonging to statutory undertakers (e.g. utility companies);
  • carry out protective works to buildings and third-party infrastructure.

Read: HS2 bill set for Parliament

HS2 the 'most ambitious' infrastructure plan since M25

The publication of the Bill for phase one of the HS2 plan marks a significant milestone in the high speed rail project. Once Royal Assent has been achieved, it is expected that construction of the line from London to Birmingham will begin in 2016/2017 allowing the line to open in 2026.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the HS2 scheme was the 'most ambitious' infrastructure plan since the building of the M25 motorway around London.

HS2 is the most ambitious and important infrastructure project in the UK since we built the M25 30 years ago, and in 30 more it will be just as integral a part of the nation's prosperity.

The Bill will give us the powers we need to get the railway built and start delivering the extra room on our railways that this country so desperately needs. It will also start the process of rebalancing the economy and bringing our great cities closer together.

That is why the Bill is so important - it marks the move from aspiration to delivery. Now is the time to be bold and ensure HS2 becomes a reality.

– Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

HS2 hybrid Bill to go before Parliament

The future of Britain's high speed rail network enters a key phase of its development when a HS2 hybrid Bill goes before Parliament later today.

Two trains pass through Church Fenton, North Yorkshire where it is proposed the HS2 railway will link with the East Coast Mainline. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/Press Association Images

As part of the process, opponents of the £50 billion HS2 scheme will have the chance to petition Parliament and have their case heard by a committee of MPs.

The Government has also published an "environmental statement" for the London-Birmingham phase one of the scheme.

Read: PM orders HS2 savings review

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