I would like to update the House on the progress of High Speed 2.
High Speed 2 will be the backbone of our country’s rail network. The first major railway to be built north of London for 150 years, it will improve connectivity between our major cities and increase rail capacity where it is most needed by adding extra services onto our busiest routes. Once completed, HS2 is planned to serve around 300,000 people each day. No alternative transport option can achieve such an increase in rail capacity and connectivity.
HS2 is truly national in its scope and can be a transformative project for our country. Its vision is to be a catalyst for economic growth.
HS2 Ltd was set-up in January 2009. The progress it is making on the project is outlined in its Annual report and accounts for 2017/18, published on 23 July 2018, and its Corporate plan for 2018/21, published on 19 June 2018. In September 2018 HS2 Ltd also published its Skills, employment and education strategy which sets out an aim to help the next generation develop the technical skills to not only design and build HS2, but to deliver the project pipeline of the UK’s future infrastructure and leave a lasting skills legacy for the country. The training, apprenticeships and foundation degrees offered at the National College for High Speed Rail, with campuses in Doncaster and Birmingham, are central to our strategy.
HS2 is already delivering economic benefits across the UK. Around 7,000 jobs are already supported by the project and designing and building railway is forecast at peak to support around 30,000 jobs, including 2,000 apprentices. Around 2,000 businesses from across the UK have already been awarded contracts to support the project.
HS2 is not an end in itself, but rather a means to achieving balanced growth, investing in transport to unlock jobs, regeneration and housing and creating a more prosperous national economy. In July 2018 outgoing HS2 Ltd Chair Sir David Higgins published his report HS2: realising the potential demonstrating that the benefits of HS2 are already being realised across the UK. Places on the route, including Leeds, Manchester, Toton and Crewe, have outlined bold plans in their growth strategies. Birmingham, the heart of the HS2 network, in particular is already seeing an impact from HS2 in terms of jobs, business relocation and regeneration. The government also recently announced plans for the creation of a new, locally-led development body for the area around Toton in the East Midlands.
The development of these strategies was a recommendation from the HS2 Growth Taskforce report in 2014. We continue to work with places on the HS2 route on the delivery of their plans and undertake periodic assessments of progress to ensure the full potential of HS2 is being realised.
HS2 Phase 1
On Phase One (West Midlands to London), design and enabling works are ongoing. Major procurements have included: issuing an invitation-to-tender for rolling stock; Lendlease have been appointed as the Master Development Partner for Euston station, to work with HS2 Ltd, the London Borough of Camden and others to develop a Master Plan for the sustainable mixed use development at the Euston station site; and HS2 Ltd has awarded design contracts for the 4 new high speed stations in Birmingham and London.
HS2 Phase 2a
In 2015 the government announced its intention to accelerate the delivery of Phase 2a (West Midlands to Crewe). The hybrid Bill passed its Second Reading on 30 January 2018 by 295 votes to 12; the Select Committee published its Second special report of session in July 2018, to which the government will respond in the autumn. The legislation will return to the House in spring 2019 for further consideration.
HS2 Phase 2b and the Working Draft Environmental Statement
On Phase 2b (Crewe to Manchester and West Midlands to Leeds), we are making further significant progress. This Phase will complete the full ‘Y network’ and deliver the full benefits of the scheme in terms of capacity, connectivity and economic growth across the UK. In July 2017, I confirmed the route from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds. I am today (10 October 2018) announcing a consultation by HS2 Ltd on the working draft environmental statement for Phase 2b, which is a key part of preparing the future hybrid Bill to seek powers for its construction. The consultation will run for 10 weeks.
The working draft environmental statement gives those affected the chance to review and comment on initial assessments of the environmental impacts from HS2 Phase 2b. It shows the consolidated construction boundary, proposed construction methodologies at each site, construction and operational phase plans, environmental mitigation and land take to support important work such as habitat replacement, rail heads and construction traffic routes. Responses to consultation will allow HS2 Ltd to improve further its understanding of the impacts, risks and concerns that residents and businesses may have concerning the route. The consultation outcome will inform the design, mitigation and environmental impact assessment of Phase 2b ahead of the statutory environmental statement, which will be published as part of the hybrid Bill for Phase 2b.
The working draft environmental statement includes a non-technical summary; 28 community area reports; and a working draft equalities impact assessment which assesses the impact of the proposed Phase 2b scheme against the requirements of the public sector equality duty. To support the consultation, HS2 Ltd will be arranging 30 consultations events in the community areas along the Phase 2b route.
It is important to note that the working draft environmental statement is based on the Phase 2b route confirmed in summer 2017. A range of further potential local changes to the route, in particular to facilitate Northern Powerhouse Rail, are under development. Last year we provided £300 million to future proof HS2 for the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail which is a major strategic rail programme designed to transform connectivity between the key economic centres of the north. I expect to consult on such changes separately next year. In particular, the working draft environmental statement shows an ‘HS2 only’ design for stations at Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly. Transport for the North’s strategic business case for Northern Powerhouse Rail is due in late 2018 and we will consider how these designs could be modified to support future plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail.
In order to reflect changes to Parliamentary timetables after the 2017 General Election and lessons from the development of Phase One, and to allow Northern Powerhouse Rail interfaces to be properly explored for the Phase 2b hybrid Bill, I am updating the intended deposit date for the HS2 Phase 2b hybrid Bill to mid-2020. The intended opening date for Phase 2b remains unchanged at 2033.
This update on progress follows a previous update in July 2017 when we announced the Phase 2b route. The government will ensure that Parliament is provided with further updates on HS2’s progress at least once a year.
Copies of the working draft environmental statement, non-technical summary and the working draft equalities impact assessment have been deposited in the House of Commons and House of Lords libraries.