HS2 Updates and News

HS2 Consultation period starts:

As reported, the Government’s High Speed 2 consultation has started on February 28th – details can be found on the following website: http://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk/

Please note that we will be working with other groups (such as StopHS2 and the High Speed 2 Action Alliance) to develop revised arguments against this project, so please check back regularly for updates.

This is the most crucial stage so far – in theory the consultation can STOP this by the end of the year – get involved.

A good article written by the TaxPayer’s Alliance – and they don’t live on the line!

http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/6749363/the-case-for-abandoning-hs2-restated.thtml

The Green Party have officially declared that they oppose High Speed 2.  The Taxpayers Alliance have come out against it, as have the Adam Smith Institute.  NONE OF THESE ARE NIMBYs.  Many other organisations are now beginning to understand that this project makes no sense at all and is just a vanity project for this Government.

Hammond is making a big mistake if he believes opposition is just from a few locals in the shires.

STOPHS2 National Convention February 19th

Well over 500 people attended the STOPHS2 National Convention held at Stoneleigh Park on February 19th.  The day-long event attracted top speakers and several displays from action groups.  Mel Foster & Tony Bobroff represented SAAG and the pictures below give some idea of the size and nature of the event.

A good reference point for the Regional benefit argument can be seen at http://hs2theregionalimpact.wordpress.com/

Details of HS2 Consultation Roadshows released – click for document: HS2 Consultation Roadshows

WE ARE NOT OFF THE HOOK

In February the HS2 consultation will begin, based on the route going through Gt Missenden and Wendover. This DOES NOT mean that HS2 won’t come through Hughenden / Speen / Lacey Green.

1.    ‘Our’ route, known as 2.5, could still be chosen by Government

2.    A final decision will not be made until the end of 2011

3.    In Kent, 70% of the route changed following the HS1 Consultation

4.    There will be no separate consultation if they want to switch to Route 2.5

5.    Unless we stop HS2 is altogether, no-one can relax

The fight goes on.

Latest News:

We are waiting for full details of the HS2 consultation planned for February 2011.

When we have more details, these will be made available on the site.

An online survey has been launched by Business Green relating HS2 in the context of a low carbon economy.  Although this is only one piece of the puzzle, please go to the site and vote ‘No’

http://www.businessgreen.com/business_green/poll/1097/is-high-speed-rail-essential-to-the-development-of-a-low-carbon-economy#disp

Post HS2 Announcement Coverage:

The Guardian letters page shows some non-local opposition: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/dec/24/costs-of-high-speed-rail-line

The Daily Mail weigh in: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1341316/Midsomer-massacre-High-Speed-Two-rail-link-pass-Englands-countryside.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

John Redwood MP comes out against HS2 on his website – AND HE DOESN’T LIVE ON THE LINE

http://www.johnredwoodsdiary.com/2010/12/23/is-hs2-the-right-investment-for-the-uk/

Bob Ainsworth MP supports it – for no apparent reason.

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/south-warwickshire-news/2010/12/22/hs2-will-bring-massive-benefits-to-coventry-says-bob-ainsworth-92746-27869362/2/

Bucks Free Press: http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/8748748.Campaigners__HS2_is__next_Great_Train_Robbery_/?ref=rss

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/8750005.Cash_fund_to_fight__once_in_a_lifetime__HS2_battle/?ref=rss

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/8750773.Over_200_HS2_protesters_in_Wendover_filmed_by_BBC/?ref=rss

National and other regional coverage can be accessed via several links here

Monday December 20th:

Philip Hammond has announced the route selected for the HS2 consultation in February 2011 and as predicted, this is the original preferred route 3 running through Amersham, Gt. Missenden and Wendover.

The full text of his House of Commons speech can be seen at http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/statements/hammond20101220

More details, including maps, can be accessed at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/proposedroute/

Government HS2 Announcement Coverage

Several articles have been published in advance of the official announcement:

The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/dec/19/hs2-chilterns-backlash-conservative-heartlands

The Telegraph (load on nonsense from Hammond) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/8212656/High-speed-rail-line-will-be-diverted-and-hidden.html

The Telegraph (‘balance of argument’ piece) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/8195500/High-speed-rail-link-opinions-are-divided.html

The Telegraph (very good article by Andrew Gilligan) http://www.telegraph.co
.uk/news/newstopics/politics/8213277/Is-this-another-high-speed-train-crash.html

The Telegraph (Gilligan really is on the plan) http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewgilligan/100068951/high-speed-rail-most-of-the-worst-victims-will-be-in-london/

The Times (Letters pro and anti) here

The Herald Scotland (Government not listening) http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/transport-environment/high-speed-rail-too-expensive-says-rac-1.1075398?localLinksEnabled=false

Daily Mail (overoptimistic route changes?) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1340076/Tory-rebels-route-250mph-high-speed-London-Birmingham-rail-link.html?ITO=1490

Birmingham Mail (also bought the DfT spin) http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2010/12/20/high-speed-rail-route-changed-hammond-97319-27853434/

Evening Standard (neutral) http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23908355-high-speed-rail-path-to-be-revealed.do

Sunday 19th: HS2 featured on BBC’s World this Weekend, with several speakers, including Philip Hammond and John Gladwin from the Chiltern Society.  Christian Wolmar, a respected railway journalist also took part.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given what seems to appeal to the media and the people who were involved, the major focus was on the local environmental impact.  This was good in that it further raises the profile of the issues, but it was bad in that  this made it simple for Hammond to say that the Government understood local issues but that they would provide mitigation measures, and people would realise it wasn’t as bad as they had been told once the line is completed.

The demand case was looked at, but arguably not in enough detail, so it is necessary to create a national debate rather than a ‘local issues’ discussion, otherwise this thing will not be stopped.

iPlayer details will be made available when available.

Chequers gift for David Cameron:

Sunday 19th: A small but select group of HS2 Action Group representatives, including Tony Bobroff, Mel Foster and Jeremy Symondson, gathered today to present DC with some XMAS gifts  – such as a white elephant and a small toy train (which is clearly a much cheaper solution if he wants a train set).

The event was filmed and hopefully will be screened on the BBC, still pictures will be available and uploaded – and of course, there is also police footage, but it is unlikely we will get access to that!

BBC Daily Politics on HS2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12002171

If you want to see how slippery Theresa Villiers trots out the party line (with an incredible error over the success of the TGV for Lille) on HS2 and Ed Balls shows his grasp of National issues by saying it’s OK if it goes to Leeds, please watch!

Political opportunities to challenge High Speed 2

At the risk of creating false optimism, several recent developments may indicate that all political parties could be coming under pressure to re-assess their position on HS2.

Conservatives: David Cameron has publicly stated that HS2 will go ahead, which exposes the lie that the upcoming consultation will allow people to present their views and have any influence on Government policy. This may cause longer term issues with legal challenges to the consultation, but in the short term, has created a significant backlash.  Several MPs have re-inforced their concerns, and Conservative associations have either already decided (or are looking at motions) to withhold funding from the party as a result of their intransigent stance over HS2.

Liberal Democrats: The Tuition Fees fiasco has opened up a serious rift in the Lib Dem party and potentially the coalition. The unprecedented level of dissent within the Lib Dems could lead to them taking a more sensible view over the waste of money that HS2 represents, and even though they supported High Speed 2 in the coalition agreement, who would have thought that their leader and others would so shamefully abandon their pledge on tuition fees?

Labour under Ed Miliband have decided to undertake a review of their position on HS2. It should be remembered that Labour saw no value in HS2 until Adonis brokered a 180 degree turn.  Given the scale of the cuts and the number of Labour sacred cows that are being slaughtered, the task of getting them to oppose HS2 should now be possible.

The High Speed 2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) have updated their review of the business case and provided this as written input to the Transport Select Committee.  This has also been sent to several key people, including the CEO of HS2 Ltd, many MPs and Philip Hammond, and represents and excellent summation and up to date view of the significant issues with the HS2 proposals.

The review can be read here; the letter to HS2 Ltd here and the letter to Hammond here

The Transport Select Committee (TSC) is undertaking a review of High Speed 2, and is in the process of reviewing both written and oral evidence from interested parties. Local MP Steve Baker is now a member of the committee, and submissions have been made by several organisations we are involved with, such as HS2AA (see above), StopHS2 and Transport Watch.

It is not possible to predict the judgment of the TSC – however, from reviewing several of the sessions, it is clear that there are serious issues with the project, and even staunch supporters have been forced to admit that HS2 is not a ‘silver bullet’ in terms of solving the UK’s infrastructure needs, nor regenerating the economy.

On 23rd November, an Adjournment debate was held on HS2, chaired by Steve Baker, the MP for High Wycombe, who made a strong argument against High Speed 2.  A transcript of the debate can be seen here

Speen Area Action Group has produced a Newsletter to update local residents on HS2 developments.  This will be delivered to all homes in the Speen, Lacey Green and North Dean areas over the next few days.  A pdf version of the newsletter can be viewed here

New FOI information on Journey times here

Government does U-turn on Consultation.

Philip Hammond has made 2 contradictory statements in the last week.  The first laid out a consultation framework at the October 25th Parliamentary Lobby Day, reinforcing Theresa Villiers statement that HS2 is “not a done deal”.

The second was a written answer to Tony Baldry MP for Banbury on OCtober 28th, stating “The consultation next year starts from the premise that the Government believe that a high-speed rail network will be in the United Kingdom’s interest, but it will consult on issues to do with the design of that network, the route and the details of the proposals for the London to Birmingham link.” In other words, it is a done deal but we may tinker with the route a bit.

Full details can be seen here

On Saturday 13th November 2010 the Bucks Area Organisation of the Ramblers Association are organising two walks in protest against HS2.  The walks will be on paths around Wendover which will either be obliterated or severed should HS2 railway go ahead through the Chiterns.  Local opposition groups to the railway are intending to join the walk to see on the ground,  the devastation that the line will cause to the Rights of Way network and to signal their opposition to the Governments proposals. Sir John Johnson Chairman of the Chilterns Conservation Board will be address the attendees at the commencement of the mornings walk.  Extensive media notification is planned consequently a good turn out of walkers will ensure good publicity.

More details can be seen here

Members of the Speen Area Action Group were amongst over 140 people who attended a Parliamentary Lobby Day on HS2 held at Portcullis House in Westminster on October 25th.  An initial copy of the key slides can be seen here, and we will produce a short event report when more details from the event are published.

The National Farmers Union has launched an online poll to gauge support for HS2 – the link is: http://www.countrysideonline.co.uk/

There is little context for this, but it may be a case of  ‘every little helps’ so take the time to register your vote.

HS2 Rally – 7th November 2010, hosted by HS2 Action Alliance, at Great Missenden’s Buryfields at 2pm – a public meeting and update about the Government plans and HS2AA’s fight against the High Speed 2 rail proposals.

The meeting will be held outdoors, there is plenty of parking, and speakers will include Martin Tett - Bucks County Council Planning, Hilary Wharf - HS2AA, Shirley Judges from the Chiltern Conservation Board, and hopefully Cheryl Gillan, MP for Amersham and Chesham

The Treasury has released details of the “Spending Challenges” consultation.

Following the CSR announcement, the Treasury website now has details of the consultation results. Details can be accessed at

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/spend_spendingchallenge.htm

Only 3 examples have been given of ideas taken up by Government, and these add up to less than £6 million savings per year.  There is no mention of HS2 in the main section of the site, however, it does appear as item number 27 on the list of ideas on the ‘DfT’ tab.  There are just over 1,800 ideas on the spreadsheet, covering multiple Government departments. This can be viewed here. We are following up with the Treasury on the process to be used to take this idea forward.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has delivered the Comprehensive Spending Review, and even though there was a long list of transport projects within the Dft’s £30 billion budget, HS2 was not mentioned. However, in the full CSR statement published on the treasury website, the following appears:

1.34 The Government is also proceeding with its plans to deliver a new high speed rail network from London to Birmingham, and then to both Manchester and Leeds, and will bring forward legislation during this Parliament that would allow the project to proceed.

As feared, the Spending Challenge website was a sham, and it is somewhat disingenuous that George Osborne mentioned the A11 roadworks – which will cost around £100 million, but not HS2 where £750 million will be spend in the CSR period.

The full treasury report can be accessed at

http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sr2010_completereport.pdf

HS2 Action Alliance have prepared a statement in advance of the announcements, and it is worth remembering that £1.15 billion will be spent on HS2 during this Parliament!

HS2 Business Case Media Briefing – 19th October – final

At the Conservative Party Conference on October 4th, Philip Hammond restated the Government’s commitment to HS2 – even though the CSR will not be announced until October 20th.  As we feared, it would seem that the political motives behind HS2 have overridden economic or environmental sense – so the challenge continues and hots up!!

The full speech can be seen here – a critique will hopefully follow, but anyone who has been following the argument will see that this is full of holes, contradictions and basically, is utter political nonsense.

There is significant coverage – but for brevity, can I at this stage please suggest a Google search for this?

During September, Philip Hammond has been visiting various locations along the preferred route for HS2, and attending meetings arranged with Local MPs and a very limited set of invited delegates.  It should be noted that these meetings have demonstrated the Government’s resolve to press ahead with HS2, but also that there are some weaknesses in the argument that can be amplified.  This will be a long hard fight.

The first of these took place on the 22nd with Cheryl Gillan and this has been reported in several titles, including here

Philip Hammond has met with John Bercow and David Lidington on the 30th September, and we have been closely involved in preparations for these meetings (although sadly, there were insufficient spaces for us to be present).  The meeting notes from the Bercow meeting can be seen here, and a press release following the meeting can be read here.

A summary document has been produced for discussion at these meetings, which provides an overview of our current thinking on HS2. This can be accessed here

Several very useful documents have been published recently, and these can accessed via the Key Documents page, here

There has been a great deal of coverage since August 20th following the release of the EHS – in fact so much that it is not really possible to show it all here.  A Google search will bring up a lot of this coverage, both press and local  TV (i.e. local to several areas directly on the preferred route).

The Exceptional Hardship Scheme opened for applications on August 20th 2010.  This only applies to the Preferred Route – Route 3, and has only marginal improvements over the original scheme.

This has generated a great deal of media coverage – and this is continuing in light of visits from Philip Hammond to the preferred route during September.

July 21st – Breaking News: David Lidington has finally gone public over HS2 and says he will vote against the proposals even if it means losing his ministerial position – maybe the letters and pressure from constituents has worked!

http://www.bucksherald.co.uk/17532/Minister-Lidington-pledges-to-defy.6431082.jp

The Bucks Herald also ran an editorial supporting the case against HS2:

http://www.bucksherald.co.uk/voiceofthepaper/Time-for-the-Government-to.6431166.jp

July 21st – The Mahwhinney report into the concept of a direct link between HS2 and Heathrow has just been published.

There are a total of 14 recommendations, most notable, perhaps, that he sees no immediate case for a direct link to Heathrow, but rather that engineering works should be staged such that a direct loop can be implemented in the future as and when the case becomes justified.  Mahwhinney also refers to a lower-cost HSR at £6 billion, which he suggests the Government should investigate further.

The full implications of this report are not yet known, however it should be assumed that the current scenario of a preferred route (3) and a preferred alternative route (2.5) remains until the Government says otherwise.

Mawhinney Report Press Release

Mahwhinney-High Speed to Heathrow

Note: Full details of the report and appendices can be found at the DfT site:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/lordmawhinneyreport/

July 20th – An HS2 flyer has been sent to all Members of Parliament by the Chiltern Conservation Board, in an attempt to broaden support against the current HS2 plans across the country.  HS2 Leaflet To MPs

An excellent paper has been published by the High Speed 2 Action Alliance setting out the flaws in the business case and outlining alternative solutions to demand. This is a key document and can be accessed here.

A reply has been received from Hs2 Ltd via David Lidington, stating that they have not been carrying out survey work recently in the Hughenden Valley area. HS2 Letter to Lidington

Supporting the argument that use of the Internet can reduce travel demands, transport minister Norman Baker is quoted in a Daily Telegraph article suggesting that people should work at home instead of travel.  Maybe he should talk to Hammond!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/7881766/Let-staff-work-from-home-employers-told.html

July 19th – Public Consultation site changed by the Treasury

For reasons that are not clear, the Treasury has significantly changed the Spending Challenge website which allows members of the public to have their say in how the spending cuts should take place. It is now not possible to search for topics, nor is it possible to comment on ideas put forward by other people, however it is still possible to input ideas, so if you have not already done so, please suggest that the current HS2 plan is not needed, is not affordable, and will not help the environment.  The link is shown below:

http://spendingchallenge.hm-treasury.gov.uk/

July 19th – Tory MP for Lichfield calls for HS2 to be scrapped.

It is fortunate that not all Tory MPs along the HS2 route are Cabinet Ministers – Michael Fabricant has gone public with his opposition to the scheme.  An article covering this can be seen at:  http://thelichfieldblog.co.uk/2010/07/19/lichfield-mp-calls-for-high-speed-rail-line-plan-to-be-scrapped/

July 12th – An article has appeared in the Herald Scotland, highlighting the flaws in the business case as articulated by the HS2AA  – http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/transport-environment/high-speed-rail-link-based-on-over-optimistic-assumptions-1.1040383

July 11th – Public Consultation is now open.  As mentioned in the budget and referred to in the Speen Area Public Meeting, the Government is now consulting with the public in advance of the Comprehensive Spending Review.  This is a major opportunity to highlight the need to Government to spend money on anything BUT Hs2.

July 7th – Philip Hammond article in the Times – this article shows Hammond’s determination to push ahead with HS2 irrespective of the cost or implications for other transport projects or other departments.  This is most likely his attempt to get a head start in the Ministerial fight for funds that is coming up in advance of the CSR review.

The Hammond Times HS2 article July 7th 2010

June 25th – FOI request finally answered.

After much pressure, we have just received data relating to the amount that the Government is currently spending on HS2.

In summary, the Government plan to spend £1.15 billion through to 2015 and £3.4 billion through to 2018.  This at a time when swingeing cuts are being made across the board.  Full details of the FOI request can be found here (be warned there are some complicated spreadsheets).

Only £15 million has been set aside for the EHS scheme.

Respond to the engagement programme as appropriate, use this as evidence of the sheer waste of money being planned.

June 21st - Philip Hammond has confirmed the flawed logic of the Government concerning rail policy: Announcing the sale of HS1 for an expected £1.5 bn (cost £5bn) he says: “HS1 is a national success story and a world class railway operating to international standards. The money generated by this sale will make an early significant contribution to the crucial task of reducing the public sector debt” Following this logic, HS2 will be sold in 2030 for £3bn, leaving the taxpayer with a £15bn burden. The task of stopping HS2 becomes more important still!!

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23847076-bids-invited-for-high-speed-rail-route.do

June 19th – Mel Foster and Paul Rogerson attended the Bucks CC summit on High Speed 2 on June 18th.  Notes from the meeting have been produced: MF-Bucks CC notes

June 19th – The Bucks Free Press have run two articles on the summit:

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/8228223.Rail_scheme__wouldn_t_make_a/

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/8228348.Alternatives_to_Bucks_high_speed_rail_route_put_forward/?ref=rss

The Government has today (June 17th) announced another series of spending cuts totalling £2 billion – but of course, work on HS2 is not included.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/politics/10341863.stm

There is a government site where members of the public have been able to comment on transport policy, although this closed on June 10th, there are interesting comments on HS2 the vast majority againt:

http://programmeforgovernment.hmg.gov.uk/transport/

June 11th - Times article expanding on Philip Hammond’s written statement (see below)

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article7147897.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797084

June 9th – Adjournment debate concerning HS2 – first official government statement since election.

At an adjournment debate called by Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North & Leith, Lab / Co-op) several points were raised and crucially, Therea Villiers made a statement which can be read here:

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2010-06-09a.1.0 (note this is available from Hansard but this version is, I think, easier to read)

My view is that this is mixed news, certainly not good news, as the intent appears to press ahead more quickly and more extensively than the current plans drawn up under Labour, with a renewed commitment to a high speed network.  The only shaft of light is the commitment to full consultation.  I fear they have made their mind up, are not interested in challenging the business case, and will press on regardless.

Ironically, the Minister, Philip Hammond, issued a written statement today announcing that schemes currently under evaluation are being postponed, including consultation processes at the DfT. His statement can be read here: Written Statement by Philip Hammond June 10th 2010.

June 8th - Another analysis of the Business Case has been published by Transport Watch showing that HS2 does not make sense http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/hs2-reports.htm

Paul Rogerson has suggested that we include links to the Bucks Free Press site (in addition to the campaign page) for relevant news items.

The following are recent articles:

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/yoursay/opinion/yourletters/8202081.We_are_mindful_of_the_HS2_impact_on_owners/

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/localnews/chalfonts/8200545.MP_to__stand_with_BFP_readers__over_High_Speed_2/

The following item appeared at the FT site on June 6th, although at first sight, this doesn’t bring much new information to the table.

Please note that this site is only accessible to registered users, so an extract is available: Radical transport thinking sparks dispute Reference is made to a 2006 transport report which can be accessed here: http://www.dft.gov.uk/adobepdf/187604/206711/executivesummary.pdf

The following item appeared at the Times Online Saturday 5th – it seems people in London are rather slow to react, but then we are taking about Primrose Hill here.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7144391.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=797084

Lower-cost HS2 alternative being considered.

The following item appeared in the FT (June 2nd) – the source report is being investigated.

A new high-speed railway network that would begin to transform travel in the UK within a decade could be delivered at a cost to the public purse of just £6bn, according to an authoritative study being considered by ministers.

The report puts the cost of the 225mph London to Birmingham service – the first stage of a national high-speed network – at less than half the £15.8bn-£17.4bn price tag placed on the same route by High Speed Two, the company established by the government to bring forward proposals for new rail lines. While the new coalition government has said a domestic high-speed rail network is a priority, progress could be hampered by the dismal public finances and opposition from homeowners along the new routes.

But the study – co-authored by a group that includes the former head of the Audit Commission, Sir Andrew Foster and David Ross, former chairman of National Express – suggests the first stage could be built for a much smaller sum by avoiding city centres, limiting the number of stations and creating a special purpose vehicle to fund the project.

More than half the cost of the £5.8bn Channel Tunnel rail link – the world’s most expensive high-speed project – came from the final approach to central London because of the extensive tunnelling and other engineering works involved.

The new report proposes bypassing Heathrow and linking Birmingham and Manchester airports with Old Oak Common in west London, without venturing into the cities themselves.

Old Oak Common will connect with Heathrow through Crossrail – the £16bn route due to open in 2017 – and will be only two stops from the West End and seven from the City. Connecting Birmingham International to a high-speed rail line fits with the Conservative party’s commitment to allowing regional airports such as Birmingham to soak up any airport growth. The government has recently blocked the development of a third runway at Heathrow, as well as expansion at Stansted and Gatwick.

Funding for the basic infrastructure would be financed largely by government-guaranteed debt, sourced from infrastructure funds, bond investors, banks and multilaterals, the report suggests. This would cost around £6bn according to projections from major construction companies. Train operators would be privately financed.

The cost of procuring railway infrastructure in Britain is as much as three times higher than comparable projects in continental Europe, partly because many products need to be custom built and infrastructure and construction projects face more onerous requirements and regulations at the planning stage.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond said: “It is vital that any new high speed network offers good value for passengers and for taxpayers. We need to look carefully at all the options to achieve this, and this report is a welcome contribution to the debate.”

Plans for a dedicated high-speed rail network to be built independently of Britain’s ageing Victorian rail infrastructure have received widespread support amid an increase in passenger numbers, which have risen 40 per cent in the past five years and freight which has risen 60 per cent – a level higher than at any time since 1946.

Construction could begin as soon as 2015, with 2027 a likely completion date for the first phase. The route would have to undergo a public consultation before going through parliament.

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