With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about our railways.
Investing in transport infrastructure is not a choice.
To create jobs and to rebalance our economy we need…
…better roads, better airports and better trains.
And high speed 2 is a central part of that investment.
That is why, today, I am announcing our preferred route for consultation north from Birmingham and on to Leeds and Manchester.
These new services will reach 8 out of 10 of our largest cities.
Places such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
In all 18 cities and many more towns too will be served by HS2 services.
It will be completely integrated with the existing rail network.
It will bring people and businesses together.
It will create an estimated 100,000 jobs.
And it has the backing of businesses and cities across Britain.
We will introduce legislation for the first phase in this parliament.
And legislate for the second in the next one.
Construction is set to begin in 2017.
The first trains will run in 2026.
And the second phrase will open fully by 2033.
Mr Speaker, I would like to make 3 further points.
The first is about the need for the line.
HS2 will be the first main line to be built north of London for almost 120 years.
Some say we don’t need another.
But the truth is that we are already good at squeezing the most out of our Victorian railway network.
And yes, we will get even more out of it in the coming years with massive investment.
We are electrifying 800 miles of track, building Crossrail and the Northern Hub upgrade.
These will help to keep us going for the next decade or 2.
But what then?
Rail passenger numbers have doubled… doubled… over the last 15 years.
And demand will keep growing,
The West Coast Mainline is filling up.
There is not enough space for all the commuters, freight trains and inter-city trains that need to use it.
That is why I am publishing, after very careful consideration, my initial preferences for phase two of HS2.
The case for going ahead rests on the capacity it will provide.
And on the new connections it will create.
It is not just about faster trains to London…
…but also changing the way our great cities work with each other.
Easy links on journeys that are difficult today.
Giving muscle to the economies of cities beyond London.
Producing an estimated £2 in economic benefit for every £1 that is spent.
Mr Speaker, frequently, I hear calls from colleagues in this House for better services to their local stations.
They are right to ask for them.
And high speed 2 is part of the solution.
By creating free space on existing routes it will allow better services to places like Milton Keynes and many more.
Because I am determined to make sure the benefits of HS2 run much wider than the places directly served by the new line.
Mr Speaker, let me turn to my second point.
The detail of the route I am announcing today.
This follows the government’s announcement last year about phase one between London and Birmingham.
On the western leg from Birmingham to Manchester I propose 2 new high speed stations.
The first in the heart of Manchester, right alongside the existing station at Manchester Piccadilly.
Allowing easy connections to places such as Salford, Stockport and Bolton.
And a journey time to London of just 1 hour 8 minutes, down from over 2 hours today.
The second station will be at Manchester Airport, giving direct access to the wider Cheshire area.
HS2 also will serve Crewe via a dedicated link and high speed trains will continue on the existing railway to Liverpool and Runcorn.
They will also benefit greatly reduced journey times.
Further north, near Wigan, HS2 will connect with the West Coast Main Line…
so that high speed trains can then continue at regular speeds to places such as Preston, Penrith, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
I am working with counterparts in Scotland on their aspirations for high speed rail.
And I have already set out a long-term ambition to get journeys to Scotland below 3 hours.
Turning to the eastern leg…
we will construct 3 new stations to bring people and businesses in the East Midlands and Yorkshire closer together…
with the North East…
and with London.
The east midlands station will be located between Nottingham and Derby at Toton.
Links will be upgraded to provide fast access to nearby cities.
The second station will be at Sheffield Meadowhall.
It already has good connections and these can be improved further …
allowing it to serve all of Sheffield and South Yorkshire.
The third station will be located in the centre of Leeds alongside the south bank area.
As with the western leg, there will be a connection from HS2 onto the existing rail network.
A connection to the East Coast Main Line, just 9 miles from York, will allow the north east to benefit, too.
London to York in just 1 hour 23 minutes.
And Newcastle in just 2 hours 18.
Finally, a decision on how best to serve Heathrow will be taken after the outcome of the Airports Commission has been considered by the government.
But from day one HS2 will provide far faster journeys than now via a major new interchange at Old Oak Common…
linking to the Great Western Mainline, Crossrail and the Heathrow Express.
The third point I want to make today is about design and help for those most affected.
I know this is an issue that many hon. members want the government to take extremely seriously.
And we are.
I know that although the line will benefit the country as a whole…
…it will also create great anxiety among those close to proposed route.
So we will consult properly.
And compensate fairly.
Let me stress that today I am announcing a preferred route.
This is the start of the process not the end.
We are ready to listen. Ready to improve.
I want this line to create jobs and prosperity not harm it…
so where businesses may be affected, we will work with them to find a solution.
We will now begin a period of informal consultation on phase two.
This will inform the official public consultation, originally planned for 2014…
but which I can announce will be brought forward to this year.
Mr Speaker, I understand how proposals like these can affect property markets.
So compensation will be as generous as on the first phase, and more generous than when we built motorways.
Today I launching a public consultation on the exceptional hardship scheme for those who must sell but can’t because of HS2.
Under this scheme, we will pay the full price, valued as if there was no HS2.
This will be followed by the next stage of our property compensation scheme once the final route is confirmed.
Mr Speaker, there aren’t many issues on which all the political parties in this House agree on.
It often feels like there are none at all.
But this is one.
Because regardless of the nature of the government when the first trains run in 13 years’ time.
What matters are the jobs…
the rebalancing of the economy…
our country’s future prosperity.
I commend this statement to the House.
HS2 phase two initial preferred route
HS2 phase two consultation
HS2 Ltd advice to government on phase two of HS2
Delivery partner reports to government on phase two of HS2
Background to HS2