2018: The year of opportunity for HS2

Source: Dec/Jan RTM

Momentum continues to gather pace up and down the country as this year’s major HS2 milestones begin to approach, writes John Downer, director of High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL).

Last year saw the construction of HS2 – Britain’s brand-new high-speed railway line – truly get underway. Royal Assent was granted at the beginning of the year; significant surveying and enabling works commenced including around Euston; the National College for High Speed Rail officially opened its doors to students; and the government awarded £6.6bn in contracts to the companies who will design and construct bridges, tunnels, embankments and viaducts for Phase 1.

The transformative nature of the programme also started to take shape as Phase 2 of the route, which will extend high-speed track across the north of England, was outlined by ministers in the summer. The government also released its Industrial Strategy white paper in November, which highlighted HS2 as a critical infrastructure project for underpinning growth and contributing to productivity throughout the UK.

All in all, the project took important leaps forward and laid the foundations for the major acceleration in the programme that we will see this year as the construction begins to take shape. Work is due to start on new stations, tunnels, embankments and viaducts for Phase 1; the shortlist for HS2’s £3bn London station design deals will be announced soon; train groups will be invited to tender for HS2 Ltd’s £2.75bn rolling stock contract in April; and the new West Coast Partnership rail franchise is planned to start in December.

As momentum continues to build, we must make the most of the remarkable opportunities high-speed rail offers the UK. HS2 will not just bring faster journey times, as demonstrated by HS2 Ltd’s most recent report ‘HS2: Getting the best out of Britain,’ which argues that the improved connectivity will be a catalyst for economic growth outside London and the south east, rebalancing the economy and supporting industrial growth. It will also help rejuvenate towns and cities, interlinking businesses and markets across the supply chain.

The government has designated 2018 as the Year of Engineering – and HS2 is a showcase project. It will create jobs throughout the UK, fostering innovation and skills amongst our current and future workforce while reaffirming our leading position in delivering cutting-edge infrastructure projects on the world stage. 

As industry leaders, our members welcome the commitment to HS2, look forward to its completion and envisage a long-term plan for high-speed rail in Britain that will extend the network across the north of England and to Scotland and connect to improved rail services, including Northern Powerhouse Rail and Crossrail 2.

This summer, on 12 June, HSRIL will host a conference in Leeds which will seek to highlight the far-reaching benefits of high-speed rail and its role in securing the future of rail travel in the UK, with a particular focus on bringing together ideas and expertise on how HS2 will stimulate private sector investment and economic development.

High-speed rail is a huge confidence boost for the UK economy, a significant investment in our long-term future, and is underway now. Our task is to maximise every opportunity it brings – including new skilled jobs across the country, new orders for local businesses in the supply chain, and enabling the connection of local and regional economies. There is huge potential and 2018 is the year – all of us must harness the opportunities.

Top Image: Grimshaw Architects




Stophs2   24/01/2018 at 19:35

Digging up graves Pulling down trees Destroying AONB and & ancient woodlands Closing businesses & evicting home owners WITHOUT compensation Employing orange Thugs to 'F**k Up' law abiding protesters Spreading lies about the homes affected & plummeting BCR Those opportunities?

Melvyn   25/01/2018 at 23:51

A visit to nearby Kings Cross / St Pancras International which has undergone major redevelopment to built HS1 into St Pancras a station that had been left to go to almost being demolished and involved relocating graves a common feature in central London as had to be done for Crossrail because London has existed since before the Romans arrived and thus graves exist all around the city . Now we have two modern stations with St Pancras International on of the best stations in the world combining modern fearless with the historical Barlow Trainshed upgraded and looking like it had just been built ! Work is now underway at Euston Station which received a low quality airport style Terminal building when it was rebuilt in the 1960s with little done to tracks and Station approaches . So hopefully Euston both Mainline and Underground will get a 21st Century makeover with that Hugh hole the station sits in becoming a new area for London just like the nearby Kings Cross railway lands are becoming!

Melvyn   28/01/2018 at 22:09

I watched recording of Rail Electrification Committee questions to Chris Grayling where he tried justifying cancellation of MML electrification on basis that we are building HS2 as though electrification was in case HS2 wasn't built . However, people have been sold on HS2 on the basis that Classic Compatible trains will use HS2 to speed up journey from London and then divert onto the MML to serve stations like Derby yet that won't be possible without MML electrification! With the 2nd reading of HS2 Phase 2a bill on Tuesday MPs need to challenge Chris Grayling on how HS2 will serve MML stations without the vital electrification?

Simhedges   29/01/2018 at 23:11

We need a phase 3, to extend to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

View all News

rail industry focus

Versatile coating system enhances Indestructible Paint rail industry role

12/08/2020Versatile coating system enhances Indestructible Paint rail industry role

A highly versatile and robust epoxy coating s... more >
Network Rail partners with Cycling UK for new initiative

03/08/2020Network Rail partners with Cycling UK for new initiative

Network Rail and Cycling UK have launched a p... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Year with brand-new infrastructrure to... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the TOC, gives RTM an update on the innovative scheme. Recognising that young people are more likely to take a risk trespassing on railway tracks, C... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s network of independent repair facilities across the UK and further afield in its global network. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he wo... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >
Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >
TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... more >