Govern­ment re­futes claims of HS2 Phase 2 de­lays

Rail (UK) - - Network News - Richard Clin­nick richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­ @Clin­nick1 As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor

GOVERN­MENT is in­ves­ti­gat­ing what is still re­quired to progress the HS2 Phase 2 Hy­brid Bill, but de­nies the project is be­ing de­layed or paused.

The Bill was due to be tabled next year, but a re­port in The Times on Septem­ber 3 claimed it was be­ing de­layed by a year.

In a state­ment, the De­part­ment for Trans­port con­firmed it was look­ing at the whole pic­ture, and that the Bill needed to take into ac­count plans for North­ern Pow­er­house Rail.

A DfT spokesman said: “In or­der to max­imise the huge po­ten­tial of HS2, it is im­por­tant to make sure it takes full ac­count of the emerg­ing vi­sion for the other trans­for­ma­tive project of North­ern Pow­er­house Rail.

“Phase 2b of the rail­way will con­nect the great cities of the North to boost jobs, hous­ing and eco­nomic growth, and re­mains on track to open in 2033. We will up­date Par­lia­ment as part of our con­sul­ta­tion this au­tumn.”

Par­lia­ment re­sat from Septem­ber 4 for two weeks, ahead of the main con­fer­ence sea­son.

HS2 Ltd re­ferred RAIL to the DfT, but ex­plained that Govern­ment wanted more time to fi­nalise what will be in­cluded in the Bill, and said that this should not change the planned open­ing date of 2033 for Phase 2.

Coun­cil­lor Ju­dith Blake, leader of Leeds City Coun­cil and West York­shire Com­bined Au­thor­ity coun­cil mem­ber, said: “The DfT has as­sured us that timetabling for project de­liv­ery is still the same, and it is im­per­a­tive that doesn’t change.

“How­ever, any de­lay in the process which will de­liver HS2 to the North is con­cern­ing, and it is es­sen­tial that this does not have a knock-on im­pact on the timetable for con­struc­tion or the open­ing of the east­ern leg. There’s a great deal of work go­ing on be­hind the scenes in mak­ing sure we’re HS2 ready, and we’ll shortly be sub­mit­ting our strate­gic out­line busi­ness case to govern­ment de­tail­ing our vi­sion for Leeds sta­tion.”

Trans­port Se­lect Com­mit­tee Chair­man Lil­ian Green­wood said: “If true, this is a poor start to the new par­lia­men­tary year for the Trans­port Sec­re­tary. It’s yet an­other po­ten­tial de­lay to a large and com­plex trans­port in­fra­struc­ture project, and raises fur­ther doubts over the Govern­ment’s com­mit­ment and will­ing­ness to in­vest in the Mid­lands and the North.

“Ul­ti­mately, this project was meant to be the ‘great eco­nomic con­duit’ for the North, and part of the plans to re­bal­ance eco­nomic growth in this coun­try. With­out HS2 Phase 2b, the po­ten­tial trans­for­ma­tion to con­nec­tiv­ity across the Mid­lands and to the great cities of the North and Scot­land will be lost.”

She also warned that Min­is­ters must be up­front re­gard­ing costs and where the fi­nances of the project are.

Work on Phase 1 be­tween Lon­don and Birm­ing­ham is un­der way af­ter that Bill re­ceived Royal As­sent in Fe­bru­ary 2017. Trains are due to start run­ning in 2026.

Mean­while, HS2 Ltd said it could not comment on le­gal is­sues, af­ter Span­ish train builder Talgo is­sued a le­gal chal­lenge re­gard­ing the de­ci­sion to add CAF to the short­listed bid­ders for the £2.75 bil­lion con­tract for new trains for HS2. Spokesman Alas­tair Cowan told RAIL: “All I can say is that, to en­sure the best trains are pro­cured, it is vi­tal that a ro­bust com­pe­ti­tion takes place.”

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