Thank you for contacting me about HS2.
Following the recommendations of the independent Oakervee review on the benefits and impact of HS2, the Prime Minister gave the go ahead to HS2 alongside major improvements to local transport networks across the country. Construction work on Phase One of HS2 has now commenced.
HS2 will form the backbone of the UK’s transport network, delivering a significant increase in rail capacity, with hundreds of thousands of extra seats. It will cut journey times, bring our biggest towns and cities closer together, enhance North-South connectivity, boost productivity in the Midlands and the North, and crucially it will help to spread prosperity more evenly across the country. HS2 will also play an important role in delivering the Government’s net zero carbon objectives.
I have been reassured that Ministers will work hard to speed up the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail. More broadly, ‘High Speed North’ will be established to ensure an integrated, effectively sequenced plan to make sure the North and Midlands have the rail capacity and connections they need – east to west and north to south.
A dedicated Minister with specific responsibility for oversight and accountability of HS2 has been appointed and they will present regular reports to Parliament to enhance transparency. HS2 Ltd.’s role will also change. The complex Euston station element will become the responsibility of a new body, as will the design and construction of Phase 2b. This will enable HS2 Ltd to focus its energies on delivering Phases 1 and 2a successfully.
On its environmental impact, HS2 will play an important role in the UK’s transition to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. I understand that HS2 will offer some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger km, seven times less than passenger cars and 17 times less than domestic air travel in 2030. HS2 is expected to help reduce the number of cars and lorries on the road and cut demand for domestic flights.
It is estimated that the total carbon emissions produced by both constructing and operating Phase One for 120 years would be the same as just one month of the UK’s road network.
I am also pleased that a green corridor will be created alongside the railway. This will involve the planting of seven million new trees and shrubs, including over 40 native species, along the Phase One route from London to the West Midlands.
It is welcome too that an overall £70 million funding package has also been made available to enhance community facilities, improve access to the countryside, and help improve road and cycle safety in towns and villages along the HS2 Phase One route.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.