I support the construction of HS2, which I believe would increase capacity on our rail network, better connect the biggest cities, and generate jobs and economic growth.
Britain's railways require additional capacity, and I believe that HS2 represents the most effective way of both alleviating pressure on the current network and ensuring capacity growth. With destinations including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Crewe, HS2 is expected to relieve the East and West Coast mainlines of congestion by offering fast, direct services between major cities on new and improved lines.
HS2 would also drive regional regeneration and support job creation. It is supported by all the major conurbations that it will serve, as they recognise the key benefits that it will bring to their areas.
It is of course only right that infrastructure projects which involve significant amounts of taxpayer funding should be subject to continuous assessment, particularly with regard to costs and benefits. To this end, I understand that the Prime Minister has asked former HS2 and Crossrail Chairman, Douglas Oakervee, to carry out an independent review into the HS2 project. The review will consider HS2's benefits and impacts, affordability and efficiency, deliverability and scope, as well as it's phasing, including its relationship with Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The review will offer clear advice on HS2 to the Government in the autumn, and it will inform how the project proceeds. It is important to note that in the meantime, limited work on the project will continue.
HS2 will improve connections between our biggest cities and regions, and generate jobs, skills and economic growth. It will also mean thousands of extra seats and faster journeys for passengers travelling to and from Edinburgh and Glasgow. The completion of Phase 2a, between London Euston and Crewe, will see the journey between Glasgow and London reduced by 45 minutes to under four hours, with journey times eventually reduced to around 3 hours and 40 minutes with completion of Phase 2b.
I am delighted that the Government is delivering on its promise to spread wealth beyond London and the south-east, and am convinced that its plans will unlock the full benefits of HS2 to Scotland.
Ensuring that the project strikes the right balance between the needs of affected communities and the environment, and the long-term needs of the country as a whole is essential. HS2 Ltd's Sustainability Policy commits to the protection of the environment through seeking to avoid significant adverse effects on communities, businesses and the environment, including the prevention of pollution.
The policy also commits to minimising impacts where they occur, and delivering enhancements as far as reasonably practicable to attain no net loss to the natural environment. I am pleased that a green corridor is being created alongside the railway, including the planting of seven million new trees and shrubs along the Phase One route from London to the West Midlands.
The Government is also committed to providing support for local communities whilst HS2 is constructed, first along the Phase One route. An overall £70 million funding package has been made available which will help enhance community facilities, improve access to the countryside, and help improve road and cycle safety in towns and villages along the HS2 Phase One route. It will support local economies where businesses may experience disruption from the construction of the line.
Last updated October 2019