It is expected that Phase Two will begin operating trains around 2033 as part of the HS2 network, with part of the route (between West Midlands and Crewe) to open in 2027 so the North and Scotland will get the benefits of HS2 sooner.
Plans to include the site of a new station in Sheffield have not been included, after the Meadowhall shopping centre proposal was binned.
But HS2 has suggested sending trains into the existing city centre instead, which would save £1bn, but will also cut through a brand new housing estate near Doncaster. Local MP Ed Miliband will have a few things to say about that...
A consultation is ongoing for seven areas where proposed refinements are substantial, with a final decision to be made next year.
Phase 2b consists of the western leg from Crewe to Manchester and the eastern leg from the West Midlands to Leeds, with connections onto the existing rail network at Golborne for the West Coast main line, Church Fenton for the East Coast main line, and Clayton and Clay Cross for the existing network north and south of Sheffield.
New HS2 stations will be constructed at Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Airport, Leeds, and Toton.
The project has had critics; not least over its £56bn price tag, but the government says it will boost the economy by billions once it’s up and running.
Grayling said: “The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day.
But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with Phase One, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law.
Phase One is due to open in December 2026, with the first trains between London and Birmingham, before continuing on to the existing West Coast Main Line. The government recently announced a new franchise would initially operate both.
The hope is that it will help increase capacity on our congested railways for both passengers and freight, as well as improving connections between the biggest cities and regions.
The new HS2 trains will carry over 300,000 people a day and will triple seats available out of Euston at peak hours.
Grayling also announced the awarding of £900m worth of Phase One enabling works contracts:
- Area South – CS JV (Costain Group Plc, Skanska Construction UK Ltd)
- Area Central – Fusion JV (Morgan Sindall Plc, BAM Nuttall Ltd, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Ltd)
- Area North – LM JV (Laing O’Rourke Construction Ltd, J Murphy & Sons Ltd)