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McLoughlin promises to deliver HS2 on time following Brexit

HS2 will be completed on time and is more needed than ever following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP said yesterday.

Giving the keynote speech at the ‘Attracting the brightest and best’ conference in Birmingham, organised by High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL), McLoughlin said that the benefits of HS2 were “more relevant” following the referendum.

Lord Berkeley, chair of the Rail Freight Group, and a member of RTM’s editorial board, has said that funding HS2 may not be “a priority” because of the economic uncertainty following the referendum result.

McLoughlin, who supported Britain remaining in the EU, insisted HS2 would go ahead, saying that there were also calls for Crossrail to be scrapped when the Coalition government came to power in 2010.

“Thank goodness we stuck to our guns,” he said. “Nobody now questions that decision. Just as it was right to build Crossrail, it is certainly right to build HS2.

“In fact, outside the EU we are even more dependent on the jobs, capacity and connections that HS2 will provide. Anything else would not only consign rail passengers to decades of overcrowding, it would also show precisely the sort of short-termism that has plagued infrastructure planning or decades. If we want a bright future, we have to go out and get it.”

Following the referendum result, representatives of major companies, including Alstom and AECOM, said HS2 and other major rail projects remain ‘vitally important’ to the success of the UK.

However, a recent National Audit Office (NAO) report warned that HS2 is behind schedule on its delivery. But McLoughlin said the report was positive overall.

“We are on course to gain the powers needed to build HS2 from the end of this year,” he said, “which the NAO called a significant achievement.”

The HS2 Bill is currently in the House of Lords and is due to become law by the end of this year.

McLoughlin said: “Construction of the first phase of the rail will begin on schedule next year, and the construction of the full network will be completed on time and on budget.”

Beth West, commercial director at HS2 Ltd, also gave a speech, in which she confirmed that HS2 is scrutinising the NAO report.

“We obviously have to look at that in earnest,” she said, “that’s something that we need to take very seriously, but we are still on track to go for the 2026 opening.”

McLoughlin also said “strong leadership” was “vital” to address the skills gap needed to deliver HS2.

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Bill   12/07/2016 at 19:24

If the new Prime Minister is really serious about promoting jobs and services in the north of England, then what better place to commence than an West to East transport corridor. This I believe, should be between Liverpool/Manchester/Leeds/Newcastle. This would surely please those who have long bemoaned the apparent Londoncentric money pit. A much needed boost to the economy and morale of the people of the north of England. HS2, perhaps after the above is completed, but certainly not before (or ever!).

Peter   13/07/2016 at 11:29

Because of the long timescale it takes to build the new High Speed Network, as with any new transport infrastructure, it is imperative that work on HS2 continues as planned. The referendum has highlighted the remoteness that many people feel about London and HS2 will certainly help to spread the wealth generated in the South-East further north by reducing the travel time between the capital and the important Northern Cities. Any delay in the project can only worsen this huge rift in our country.

John   13/07/2016 at 14:04

Mc Loughlin has no chance of this now, the money just won't be there unless He's going to vote for swingeing tax rises to pay for it post brexit and He won't be allowed to do that politically, so HS2 is now a dead duck.

John Burns   13/07/2016 at 15:38

The heavy rumours are that HS2 will only be one line from London to the Crewe Junction via Birmingham. This will give cost cuts that are acceptable to many. What this means. The trains to Scotland, Liverpool and Manchester. The high-speed trains will run to Crewe and then run onto existing classic lines onwards. To Manchester it will be only about 12 minutes slower than using a full dedicated HS2 line into the city once bottlenecks are removed from the existing direct, dedicated for Manchester, classic line from Crewe. Using the new Hitachi 140mph trains Leeds is accessed on existing 'straight' 'direct' lines, again about 12 minutes slower than HS2 door to door. The same for Sheffield on the MML, when all electrified. So the eastern leg of the HS2 'Y' can be abandoned cutting great costs. Birmingham needs only to be accessed via existing classic lines into New St, branching off the adjacent HS2 backbone not a new station on dedicated HS2 track on the branch. New St is where most connections are made for the area and Birmingham's main station. At the London end terminating at Old Oak Common, and run some HS2 trains into Crossrail. This makes lots of sense. Take passengers nearer to their end destinations. Most inter-city passengers at Euston take an underground train to their eventual destinations. So terminating at Old Oak Common and taking Crossrail and having HS2 running into Crossrail makes perfect sense. Leave Euston alone. - HS2 only need run to Crewe via Birmingham. - The existing lines to Manchester and Liverpool from Crewe can have the bottlenecks ironed out to increase speed and safety. - The existing lines to Leeds and Sheffield can also have the bottlenecks ironed and full 140mph trains run on the lines. - Having no captive trains (trains that can only run on HS2 track), only classic compatible (trains that can run on HS2 & existing tracks) to standardise on the high-speed line. - Build the high-speed Crewe Hub, so trains can seamlessly, and fast, run off HS2 onto existing classic lines. - Have Chester and Stoke on the HS2 route, running into both from Crewe. Then more cities gain, and not a favoured few.

Gb   20/07/2016 at 17:12

Has the Transport Secretary ever explained how HS2 will be of benefit to the economy? All we hear are bland statements that it will 'equalise' North and South, etc., but with no concrete facts about the establishment of any new businesses with large noumbers of staff needing to make all these high speed journeys - every day. I think it would be far better to spend taxpayers' money on targetted improvements to the existing rail system to improve capacity and connectivity, including re-opening main lines (and some branch lines) closed in the late 1960s, to provide access to the rail system throughout the country for as many people as possible rather than for a few living at the extremities - who already have that facility anyway. Creating such disruption to the landscape and thousands of peoples' lives and property for the sake of cutting 30 mins from the journey time from London to Birmingham seems rediculous to me and selfish in the extreem. The Govt. should re-examine the rail system's priorities and then spend the money saved by not building HS2 on the NHS, the Police and other public services in dire need.

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