HS2 on track
The HS2 wagon has started to roll: The High Speed Rail Preparation (paving) Act received the Royal Assent on 21 November 2013. It enables expenditure on essential preparatory work for both phases of HS2, as well as for any associated future developments connected with the high-speed rail network. The House of Commons voted 350 to 34 in its favour, and the Bill passed the House of Lords.
Following on, the government has since published (25 November) a hybrid Bill for Phase One (London-Birmingham), to allow it to build and operate the railway. When (or if) Royal Assent is finally granted, construction on this £17.2bn section could start in 2016 or 2017 and be completed by 2026.
The government has also released (25 November) an environmental statement for Phase One inviting comments from the public and affected parties about likely impacts. The consultation is required by parliamentary rules, and the responses will be summarised and laid before the House during the Second Reading of the Bill. Deadline date for submissions is 24 January 2014.
HS2 will construct 351 miles of new railway linking London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds by 2033. It will cost £42.6bn, but an extra £14.4bn has been set aside as contingency.