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HS2 – The story so far

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With the new Government carrying out a spending review due to be announced on 25 November, it is a good time to look at one of the big-ticket rail projects around at the moment – HS2.

So far, the HS2 story has been about planning, design, compromise and proposal. The route has been argued over – the term NIMBY (not in my back yard) has come into popular use – and altered several times, which has increased the estimated total cost. The railway is now likely to be largely in cuttings and tunnels, to keep it away from the sight (and ears) of those who live nearby, but that will need extra engineering work.

This is the first of a two-part look at HS2, how it has got to where it is now, and what it plans for the future. In this first instalment, Rail Engineer talks with Andrew McNaughton, the engineer who has been with the project since its first day. After the strategic review has been published and considered, there will be a second article with chief executive Simon Kirby looking forward to Royal Assent and actually getting the construction phase underway.

Three in an office

“I started on HS2 on 9 February 2009,” Andrew McNaughton remembered. “The previous month, Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Transport, stood up in the House of Commons and announced that the Government was going to get up a government owned company to examine the case for high speed rail in Britain and recommend a first route if that was the right thing to do.

“So HS2 Limited was setup as a company limited by guarantee, which it still is, and a senior civil servant was seconded to be its economist and chief executive, she was Alison Munro. It had as its Chairman a previous Permanent Secretary in Sir David Rowlands and it was set up, very deliberately, outside the DfT and separate from the existing rail industry to look at things objectively and from scratch. We were charged with providing advice to Government by the end of the year.

“Day one, I had no phone, no computer, we had a rickety desk in a bit of surplus Government property at 55 Victoria Street where the SRA used to live!

“I was seconded from Network Rail. I was the chief engineer there and so this was a melding of rail knowledge, which was me, with transport planning and economic knowledge, which was Alison. Various people were seconded from the DfT and I also sought out a small number of people  that I trusted completely to come and support me. Then we went out and got, by competitive tender, Arup to be our engineering consultant and Temple to do the environmental stuff.

“The deadline was by the end of the year. So there we were, on the 31st of December, trying to get the printers to work at 17:00 in the evening because our Secretary of State (now Lord Andrew Adonis) had made it very plain that he was going to spend New Year’s Day reading it. The report was about 200 pages long and it had got in it principles that have been with us ever since, such as this is a project to maximise economic benefit.

“So it’s demand-led, not engineering-led, not operational-led, it’s demand-led. The reason you run trains off to Manchester on day one by going up to the West Midlands and then using the conventional existing West Coast main line is because of that first principle, which was to maximise the benefit.”

Alternatives and proposals

That first report was as detailed as the small team could make it. Titled “London to the West Midlands and beyond”, it considered 25 station locations in London. It looked at the case for going via Heathrow, and for not doing so. It analysed around 104 possible routes.

The team behind the report had considered justifications for taking the line up to Newcastle, to Edinburgh and to Glasgow. It looked at the case for a high-speed railway between Leeds and Manchester and other different proposals that were around at the time.

The Conservatives, then in opposition, had suggested a route they called the ‘Reverse S’ – a line that went up to Manchester then went across the Pennines and Leeds, went up to Newcastle and then went back to Glasgow. There was also an Inverse A which had a trunk route to Birmingham then two lines going north – one eventually to Newcastle, one to Glasgow and Edinburgh and potentially a cross-bar which was Leeds-Manchester. There was even a Reverse E, which had no direct link between Birmingham and Manchester. Everything was considered.

And it all went into the report, which was presented to the Secretary of State on 31 December 2009 as promised. He then published it on 11 March 2010 along with his command paper setting out his own thoughts on the proposals.

The biggest benefits were from getting to Manchester and Leeds, so the Inverse A became a Y – a main route to Birmingham and then two arms, one to Leeds and one to Manchester. The link between Leeds and Manchester didn’t have a good business case to be high speed (defined as over 250km/h or 160mph) but should instead simply be an upgraded, fast railway.

So the plan was for a dedicated, high-speed, passenger railway. Unlike HS1, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, it will only be used by high- speed passenger trains. Why not run other trains too?

“You can smuggle Javelins between Eurostars because there aren’t many Eurostars, there are big gaps in the service and it’s a very short distance,” explained Andrew. “You’ve only got from Ebbsfleet to Ashford that they have to get along where they’re going slower than Eurostars. The route out to Ebbsfleet is only 230km/h so they’re basically running at the same speed as the Eurostars out through the London tunnels. The faster bit of the route is only between Ebbsfleet and Ashford. It’s really not far.

“However, if you run a Pendolino on High Speed 2, you would destroy three quarters of the train paths because of the distance and the speed differential.”

HS2 will be an intensively used line, with trains running close together on twin tracks. There is no space between high speed trains for anything slower, and no slow line to move them onto. So the line will be completely taken up with long- distance, high-speed trains.

Speed or capacity?

Capacity is certainly part of the justification for the new line. The southern end of the West Coast main line is full. Long distance traffic is increasing, freight is increasing, and more and more people are moving out of London to areas such as Milton Keynes and commuting by train. As Andrew said, it’s a “triple whammy”.

ES Report

“The West Coast is overloaded three times over, and so a big part of our business case argument in our first report was to release capacity on the West Coast. It’s a big chunk of our BCR, of our business cost benefit ratio.

“But it was never designed to be the West Coast main line bypass. We realised very early on that London to the West Midlands was the most urgent priority. You could say it’s always good to build a tree from the root upwards rather than from the branches down but we’re going to run out of transport capacity between London and the West Midlands before we run out of anything else. So as you build a new line, you improve connectivity and you change the way cities work with each other, which is a big thing that has emerged steadily from our original work.”

There are three types of traffic on the West Coast main line (WCML) – long-distance, commuter and freight. HS2 will pull the long- distance out of the equation and leave the other two to run on the current line.

“HS2 will give a transformational increase in capacity,” Andrew McNaughton explained. “Basically, as a dedicated passenger railway, we can carry more people per hour than two motorways. It’s phenomenal capacity. It pretty much triples the number of seats long-distance to the North of England.”

Removing the long-distance traffic will allow commuter and freight trains to run on all four lines of the WCML, hence increasing their capacity as well.

So what about speed? Does the new line have to be a high-speed railway?

“We had to study strategic alternatives, so we asked what would be the effect if High Speed 2 were built as a conventional railway, another 125 mile an hour railway? And the answer was we’d never build it because the benefits would only be about half but the costs would be 90% because we’d still be building the tunnels, the bridges, the viaducts, the overhead line, the track and the signalling. In cost terms, the difference between a conventional line and a high speed line is less than 10% for new line but we have double the benefits, so it’s not a difficult decision.”

More politics

Two months after Lord Adonis published his command paper, the Government changed to a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, and the project got it’s third Secretary of State in 18 months. Philip Hammond presided over a reassessment of the proposals and the costs were referred to a strategic spending review.

Many questions were asked. Were the stations in the right place? Should the route go via Heathrow? Was the Y Route to Birmingham that then split to Leeds and Manchester the correct one? Every aspect was reviewed, and then reviewed again.

Andrew McNaughton and his team justified not routing the new railway through Heathrow. It would advantage just 2% of passengers, and disadvantage 98%.

“From our point of view, it was brilliant,” Andrew continued. “Because, when Philip Hammond stood up in the House of Commons in December 2010 and said he was now requiring us to take this to public consultation, it meant we knew that we had produced a report which withstood the examination of both a Labour-led administration and a coalition administration. So the leading politicians of all three principal political parties had subjected our work to review and had accepted it.

“We felt pretty good about that, which sustained us through six months of public consultation over the spring and early summer of 2011. We had the public consultation and the public responded. It was the biggest public consultation in the history of this country with 55,000 responses. We spent the rest of 2011 checking through them one by one and making recommendations to, by that stage, our fourth Secretary of State, Justine Greening. And she announced, in January 2012, her decision on the first stage of the route.

“We made some detailed changes to the route from early feedback from affected communities. We put some more bends in the route to take it away from some communities, we started to lower it and removed some of our more ambitious viaducts. She added some changes that she thought were right having considered all the public consultation.

“Justine Greening’s particular ambition was that, if this railway was going to be around for 150 years, it was going to be a high-quality railway and, if that meant a couple more tunnels, it meant a couple more tunnels, and that’s just fine because ultimately it’s the Secretary of State’s railway, not our railway.

“So around 46% of the route got adjusted in some fashion as a result of that public consultation. Some of it was just a couple of metres up or down… particularly down in the ground a bit more. Some of it was a bit more, but actually 46% of the route was changed in some way as a result of the consultation. So public consultations do actually have an impact.”

The final result was therefore a combination of engineering design and political compromise – a balance of benefit, cost and impact. The benefits could be identified – journey times and frequency of service. Reliability came across as being very important – not only being able to travel from Manchester to London in an hour and a quarter, with a service every 20 minutes, but to be able to do it reliably, every time. The sort of reliability that the Japanese have shown can be achieved.

Impact can also be assessed. How many people live within earshot of the route? What will the effect of noise be on them, both during construction and when the line is in operation? What sites of special scientific interest will be affected, and to what extent? And what historic buildings or archaeological remains are on the route?

The final route chosen was one which, outside of London, would require one building to be demolished for every kilometre. In the most crowded nation in Europe, that’s very low. In addition, HS2 will purchase more properties which would be badly affected by construction noise, but these can be sold on once the line is open and overall noise levels drop.

Preferred route

At the end of the day, Andrew was very pleased with the final choice. “Discussions about what was the right route were entirely around the balance of benefit, cost and impact,” he commented, “and that stood us in good stead when we went out to public consultation. The Secretary of State’s preferred route, which was the same preferred route as the previous Secretary of State of a different political hue, was the one which actually had the lowest cost of the shortlist. It also had the highest benefits and, objectively, the impacts were no greater than any other route.”

Of course, people will always complain. Phase 1 will go from Birmingham to London, but it will miss Coventry. Phase 2 will miss Derby and Nottingham, passing almost exactly between them.

“The objective of High Speed is to connect up Metropolises,” countered Andrew. “In a city like London, if you channel everyone through one station, you overload the network. So that’s why we end up with two stations.

“For a region like the West Midlands, you actually need to serve the whole region and we placed the station on the outskirts of the West Midlands region which people could get to easily. That’s a city region of around four/five million people.


“We passed by some fairly big cities like Sheffield, like Nottingham, like Coventry. Those places are not destinations that you can take a whole train to and ever fill it up. You can serve on your way to other places.

“We have followed what others have done round the world; you take the line pretty close to the city, you build a station at a good interchange point. Other cities get a better service on the classic network. So Milton Keynes, for example – we don’t go anywhere near Milton Keynes – it sees a dozen trains an hour at the moment and ten of them go straight through. In the future, they will all stop, giving a better service.”

So the route is planned, designs have been drawn up, and it now all waits on Royal Assent of the Hybrid Bill. But even the detailed design had its complications. With the speed that technology advances, how does one design a railway that won’t be finished for another ten years?

“If you look, speed has increased progressively over the years,” Andrew stated. “High Speed 1 was opened at 300km/h, it was designed ten years previously. By the time it was opened, the rest of the world was designed for 320. Those lines were opened – by the time they were opened, the rest of the world was designing for 350. There’s always a huge time lag between making the decision about what you’re designing and actually opening. “Other countries have been designing for 400 for several years and so have we. We don’t open at 400, we open at 360 because, at the time that we’d done the calculations, the increased speed had a very small effect on cost but the benefits were many times greater. So the more we could reduce the journey time, the better the business case. We already can see and touch and travel on a train that would travel at that speed so the technology exists, and is just coming into service. Frankly the world will move on but we’ve designed something that is capable of being upgraded.”

It’s the same with signalling systems. The design calls for ETCS level 2, which is proven technology. If level 3 comes along before 2025, then it can only improve capacity, but the current design is based on level 2.

So that’s how HS2 has got to where it is today, waiting for Government approval to actually get started.

What happens after, that is a story for another day…


  1. It should terminate at Stratford, calling at Euston/KingsX as it heads off to Old Oak Common: that’d give the best connectivity for people going on to the East and onto the Continent, as well as reducing the footprint of the station in Camden.

    • And you believe that a self drive car to be allowed to travel at 250mph ?
      Of course the train will be faster.

      But you are right about having a through station between Euston/St Pancras.
      HS2 trains should run straight through to Kent, Paris and Germany.

      When we’ve already got trains running up HS1 at 200mph, why not just extend them the rest of the way to Manchester.

      • And you ignore my point about door2door journey times. The HS2 leg of the journey is not the only part of the journey.

        Whilst I doubt that speed limits for self driving cars will be increased any time soon, I reasonably expect that when every vehicle is controlled by computer then speed limits set for human drivers will be irrelevant.

        • I don’t ignore door to door times.
          Your car journey by robo car will take you to the station.
          That part of your journey is not the main part and time taken will not change.

          The MAIN PART of your journey is between the cities.
          That is where high speed rail halves the time.

          • I seriously doubt that even a self driving car could get to Euston any faster than public transport, the entropy between here and there is just too much. Even if it could, would anybody take two changes when they could just relax in the car without any changes? Each change adds ten to fifteen minutes to the journey.

          • Would you seriously want to be cooped up in a car (even a self driving one) for a 4hr journey when you could walk up and down a train for a 1 hr journey (plus say half an hour to reach that train station – eg St Pancras Cross, Heathrow, Stratford or Old Oak Common.

            These trains will also be the fastest way to reach Scotland or Newcastle or Paris too.

          • It’s currently an hour to Euston, two hours on Virgin and then an hour at the other end including change of mode at the changes. Or three and a half hours in a human driven car.

            So even taking an hour off the journey does not give a significant advantage over the convenience and comforts of a car. The current downside for a car is the utter bore and tedium of driving. That downside will go away.

            It’s very fine balance between which method is preferable.

          • But if its an hour from Euston, you’d surely prefer to get on a through train someplace closer (like in Kent or at Gatwick).
            I am arguing that HS2 trains should start from other places too.

            We need HS1 and HS2 trains linked together – and we need more trains joining HS2 from elsewhere too.

            And I got a whole room full of rail bosses to agree with that at their conference in Leeds yesterday.

          • Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you that HS2 should have more nodes in London. But when it’s 15~20 minutes to the Tube (dependent on road traffic and tube timings), 25 on the tube, and every mode change contributes 15 to the plan: well first you’re going to need a lot of nodes to make it close by to everyone, then you’re going to need at least 3 trains an hour to make it attractive, and even then you’re going to face some stiff competition entering the the market long before HS2.

            I’m a great fan of rail, but with HS2 it’s the last mile of the journey which will clinch it. Broadband lives or dies by the last mile, so will HS2 journeys.

          • Well its going to have 18 trains an hour and rail already has huge growth in passengers. HS2 raises the game and will thus help that demand growth for more frequency on other nodes too. The internet has increased travel demand too.

            Whilst it may not be faster for people in remote places – and you may be one of those people, total journey time will be faster for most people.

            But we are losing sight of CAPACITY.
            The main reason for these 2 tracks is to add the CAPACITY we need. This is the cheapest way to upgrade the 3 old lines.

          • This is interesting, on the one hand people say that high speed trains will attract people off aeroplanes because you won’t have to travel to the airport and check in early, hence a long time spent getting to the extremely rapid form of transport, but on the other hand you say that High Speed 2 won’t suffer because people in Chingford or Barking or so many other places in London will have to spend a lot of time getting to it.

          • What alternative would be faster though for people in Chingford or Barking? Car travel certainly won’t be – especially as roads fill up even more by 2025.

            I am saying we need HS1 trains from Stratford to be able to use HS2 to Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland.

            We need a THROUGH station at St Pancras Cross and THROUGH trains from Essex, Kent and East London (Stratford) to both HS2 and the GWR west to Bristol.

          • You might be more productive by agitating to ensure that Crossrail 2 is built to allow double deckers over the entire route.

          • Crossrail 2 is a local London METRO though.
            How on earth is that relevant to long distance travel ?

            As I said, joined up REGIONAL trains on this new HS1-HS2 route is the cheapest way to add capacity to our EXISTING lines and platforms.

  2. If we look at best international practice in those countries that have developed high speed rail we see that the people want their high speed train to take them directly to the airport terminal as at Schipol, Paris CDG and Frankfurt, not having to change into heavily congested commuter trains at Old Oak Common. If HS2 were routed via Heathrow, then Heathrow would become a really high quality interchange between the North and Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey, far more useful than Old Oak Common. We should assume that by the time HS2 is built there will be direct rail services between Heathrow and most big towns in these countries – its long overdue. So it would be a lot more than 2% of passengers using the Heathrow station.

    HS2 has not been designed with its customers, the passengers, in mind. People want to travel to city centres and dropping them off at places out of town adds to the journey time. I have always argued that the benefits of high speed rai over short haul air is that the train takes me directly into the city centre. Those McNaughton Parkway (or should it be McParkway) stations actually damage the economies of the cities they are meant to serve. Economic studies carried out by Volterra in two locations show that job creation from city centre stations generates three time the number of jobs as from the out of town stations. They also attract a much higher percentage of people arriving at the station at a time when the Government is trying to persuade airports to reduce their car journeys and increase public transport.

    HS2 has not been well designed as a number of studies show that many locations will have worse train services rather than better after HS2 opens. For many people in the Midlands and North, it is far more urgent to improve journey times between cities rather than have faster services to London – which in most cases are already vary fast. But the 82,5 miles between Nottingham and Liverpool, two of the largest cities in the ‘core city’ group takes two and three quarter hours. Upgrading the more direct line via Derby and Stoke would be far more useful. It now requires two changes of train to get from Nottingham to Liverpool by this route. Surely in the 21st century, the phrase ‘change at Crewe’ for travel between England’s Midlands and Northern cities should be ‘a thing of the past’. At least lets have through trains between Stoke and Liverpool to improve on the 28mph average speed of the fastest train.

    The strategic benefits of high speed are to link distant cities and to link people to international gateways. HS2 does not do that. It is time for a re-think.

  3. Its rubbish to say it will be in cuttings and tunnels to keep it away from peoples homes. Our grade 1 listed house is within 300 yards of it on the photo of the appalling proposed viaduct over the Colne Valley. Our heritage and countryside would be devastated in perpetuity should HS2 be built.

    • Sally

      How lucky you are. I was so envious of you when you said you would be within sight of the new HS2 viaduct at Colne Valley. It should make a great juxtaposition of the old (your house) and the new (HS2).

      That is the strength of Britain today. We can keep our heritage but not be bound by it, and we embrace change by constantly improving our national infrastructure for the benefit of generations to come.

      What a great country we live in!

  4. @grahamnalty:disqus
    The issue of whether or not to go via Heathrow was fought over long and hard, and I understand your logic. However the number of people travelling by air from Heathrow is very much lower than the total number of potential passengers on HS2. If Heathrow was actually close to the line of route between London and Birmingham, it still might have been justifiable, but it isn’t. Sending HS2 that way would involve a great deal more tunnelling and a slower route on a dog-leg, so the journey times for every HS2 passenger NOT using Heathrow would be compromised. On the balance of benefits, the right decision was reached.
    A future expansion of high speed rail in the UK might see the construction of a line from London to Bristol and South Wales. That would be a more natural candidate to serve Heathrow, in due course.

    You quote Schipol, Paris CDG and Frankfurt as airports which are served by excellent rail connections. In the case of Schipol, it is on the direct line to Den Haag and Rotterdam; Paris CDG is served by those fast services which bypass Paris en route to the South of France, trains don’t go via CDG to reach central Paris; and Frankfurt Airport station has evolved over several incarnations, the most recent one of which is that it is on the Frankfurt – Koln ICE line. In none of these cases was it necessary to put the line through a low-speed expensive dog leg specifically to reach the airport.

    Taking high speed rail into city centres as you propose is potentially very expensive, and counter-productive. If there are enough passengers to fill a couple of trains an hour, just for that single city destination, then it might be worthwhile. Otherwise you are reliant on aggregating passengers from a number of cities, and each time you go into a city centre you lose time and add cost (and lose more passengers than you gain). Sheffield is a case in point, where arguments for and against a city centre station were worked through exhaustively by HS2 and the City Council (and surrounding councils too). Of course, if you put the station in the centre of Sheffield, then Sheffield Council are happy, but what about the folks from Barnsley, Rotherham, and Doncaster who lose out compared to a station at Meadowhall? Once again, time and speed are important, as the route through Sheffield would be a slow one, penalising all passengers travelling further north on HS2.

    By the way, if you want to travel between Nottingham and Liverpool, why on earth would you go via Stoke? There is a direct hourly through service via Sheffield and Manchester.

    HS2 doesn’t do everything, and not everybody will benefit from it. However to state that “HS2 has not been designed with its customers, the passengers, in mind” is simply wrong.

    Where is your evidence for a great demand of passengers from Stoke to Liverpool by the way? And which trains would you cut out of the timetable at Crewe to enable such a service to run? Maybe post-HS2 there might be capacity for such a service, once some trains are taken off the WCML, but certainly not currently.

    Yes, there may well be some re-thinking needed, but I rather suspect it is you, not HS2, that needs to be doing it.

  5. The East Midlands station at Toton could be ideal because it is only a short few km to the city centre of both Nottingham and Derby. The existing railway track can be upgraded (spaced further apart plus OLE) to Nottingham and Derby.
    A train can be stop or non stop at Toton and terminate at Derby and Nottingham without the necessity for a ‘classic’ aka Narrow/low height trainset to go what is technically the ‘final mile’.
    When the Nottm line is expanded for larger trainsets could easily be extended to Lincoln and Hull.

    BUT, it would be far more Logical to have the HUB/Transit station joined with an Airport. Instead of Toton – East Midlands Airport.
    Just as Birmingham Junction – should be at B’ham Int’l.
    Manchester should be at Manchester Int’l.

    Every major city should have a just outside the city centre and YES they NEED to serve the city centre at the current main train stations even if the station is in Bored Tunnels below the current station. When a person’s flight lands from far away, the passenger wants to just get ON a TGV and go to destination – City Centre.

    HS1…tick but missed Maidstone
    HS2… if the Chinese had built it, we would have had it a Five years ago.
    (Make a decision and start construction the next day!)
    Where are:
    No where on this Island should be further than TWO hours from London or any where else on the LGV Network!
    Scotland to London is hoped to be 3 hours? EH?? 400 miles… That should be easily under TWO hours, closer to 1.5 hours!
    But instead of straight lines for higher speeds later, this lot will build like HS1: curved and twisted and a large portion of it has limited speed.

  6. The proposed ‘Y’ formation for HS2 is credible if justified by rail capacity increase rather than speed, as an upgrading of the existing classic railway to achieve this obective would require long periods of disruption and closures as happened on the WCML.
    However, the choice of Toton as the East Mids. Hub is seriously flawed. It has been driven by local government authorities in Nottingham and Derby justifying the location based upon regeneration of the area – an objective that should stand irrespective of HS2.
    Toton has poor connectivity to any existing classic passenger rail network, and road capacity via the A52 is already exceeded on approach to the two cities. Access to the East Mids. Airport is also difficult.
    A far better connected site for the Hub would be for a split level station at the site of the new East Mids Parkway Station, just south of Trent Junction. It not only offers better classic rail and road connectivity ( via the new dualled A453 ) but also easy access to the airport. Existing enhanced services from the 3 cities of Leicester/Derby/Nottingham could then feed into the Hub without the need for dedicated shuttle trains using proposed new expensive construction of bay platforms at those cities. It can also be anticipated that the adjoining site currently occupied by the coal fired Ratcliffe Power Station will offer local development opportunities after planned decommissioning.
    This proposal would also yield the opportunity to link HS2 to the classic network via a spur towards Nottingham west of Attenborough. A shared service linking Nottingham,Birmingham, and Bristol could then be utilising any spare capacity as on HS1 to towns in the South-East.
    However support for HS2 in the East Mids. does come with a warning!
    Upon electrification and current line speed upgrading proposals, the anticipated journey time between Nottingham and the Capital is anticipated to be approaching 90 minutes with two paths each from Derby and Nottingham. In order to justify the HS2 expenditure, passengers should not be forced onto the high speed alternative by offering only a slow stopping service at half the current frequency. We should also be aware that St Pancras will continue to offer superior connectivity compared with Euston if transfering to Thameslink or HS1.

  7. HS2 is a much bigger project than HS1, but the shocking fact that neither will join at any point seems insane. HS1 support international services which reduce the need for air travel by separating the services by station it will slow commuting down.

    Ebbsfleet started as an international station and now offer Ebbsfleet to London St Pancras in only 17 mintues http://ebbsfleetinternational.co.uk/index.php?station=high-speed-rail this is the result of by combing services.

    This is the same reason HS railway has been relocated from Waterloo to St Pancras.

  8. Now Northern Powerhouse Rail, NPR (old HS3), is in the frame, it has to merge with HS2. This means a redesign from Birmingham upwards. So NPR needs a tunnel under the Pennines from Manchester serving Leeds/Sheffield. This is so the line runs from Liverpool to Hull, via Manchester and Leeds or Sheffield, to Hull/Newcastle.

    The new leg from Manchester to Leeds Sheffield can also use used by HS2 eliminating the HS2 track from Leeds/Sheffield south to Birmingham. Notts and Derby can be served “directly” to their city centres by classic track taken off HS2 in the Birmingham area, still giving excellent time from London. Say from Liverpool or Manchester to Derby or Notts. East right under the Pennines and then south on classic track to Notts or Derby.

    Back to the “S” shape. NPR want a new line into Liverpool. This whole line can be of high-speed quality to Manchester cutting through the north-south HS2 line between Manchester. Liverpool can run on HS2 track south to Birmingham or London or east to Manchester, Leeds, etc.

    Why doesn’t the obvious prevail?


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