High Speed 2 (HS2) will run from London to Birmingham and a junction with the West Coast Main Line (WCML) near Lichfield which will allow high-speed services to continue north to destinations such as Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow.
hs2.jpgThe 190km line has been designed for 360km/h operation from the outset, with capacity for 14 trains per hour, rising eventually to 18 trains per hour. When it opens in 2026, it will reduce the journey time between London and Birmingham from 1h 22min to 49 minutes.
The existing WCML terminus at Euston will be completely rebuilt as the London terminus of HS2, while a new parkway station will be built near Birmingham International Airport, with a new terminus station at Curzon Street serving Birmingham City Centre.
Following public consultation the government has made several significant adjustments to the section of the line through the Chiltern Hills in an effort to further mitigate the visual impact of the project and appease fierce local opposition. "It is clear from the consultation that a national high-speed network generates strong feelings, both in favour and against the scheme," says Greening.
The additional construction measures sanctioned by the government include an additional 4.4km bored tunnel near Northolt, a longer continuous tunnel between the M25 highway and Little Missenden, and a longer cut-and-cover tunnel near Wendover. These changes mean more than half of the route will now be in cuttings and tunnels.
In a statement issued today by the Department for Transport, Greening said the line would be extended north to Manchester and Leeds by 2033, with a branch to London's Heathrow airport due to be completed at around the same time. Intermediate stations will be built on the Leeds line to serve the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. The total cost of the 539km network at 2011 prices is expected to be £32.7bn, and at present values it is expected to generate benefits of £47bn and fares revenues of up to £34bn over 60 years.
The line will relieve the congested southern section of the West Coast Main Line, which the government says will allow enhanced services to stations such as Milton Keynes, Coventry, and Nuneaton. A study by High Speed 2 Limited completed in 2010 suggested the additional capacity for regional and freight services on the WCML alone would generate benefits worth £2-4bn.
The government expects HS2 to remove 4.5 million air and 9 million road journeys.