Following the publication of HS2: on track on 12 March which set out the good progress we have made on HS2 over the last 5 years, I thought it would be helpful to give an update on the latest project developments.
The hybrid Bill for the first phase of HS2 is making good progress through Parliament. By the end of today the High Speed Rail (London to West Midlands) Select Committee will have sat for 76 days and heard almost 400 petitions, almost twice as many as the Crossrail committee heard in 21 months of sittings. I am sure the whole House will welcome the commitment and seriousness with which the committee has gone about the very important task of ensuring that the project strikes the right balance between the needs of affected communities and the environment, and the long-term needs of the country as a whole.
We are continuing to develop our plans for the redevelopment of Euston station and are working with the local community to ensure we keep disruption to a minimum. On 18 March we signed an agreement with the London Borough of Camden that fulfills our pledge to social rented tenants affected by Euston’s redevelopment. We have now ensured that replacement housing will be available for all 136 social rented properties in Camden affected by HS2.
On 20 March we published a report on the Northern Transport Strategy. Developed jointly with Transport for the North, the strategy sets out our ambition for a world class northern transport system, as well as the concrete steps we are taking to get there. The government has already committed £13 billion of investment to improving connectivity across the north. The report set out how we will work with Transport for the North to build on this investment, including developing a new ‘TransNorth’ rail system to slash journey times between major northern cities and taking immediate action to simplify rail fares across the north.
In addition to this, I have set out my commitment to get HS2 to the north sooner, delivering benefits to businesses and individuals more quickly. Therefore, subject to further analysis and decisions on the preferred route, I intend to prepare a dedicated hybrid Bill to lay during the next Parliament with a view to bringing HS2 to Crewe earlier than planned.
Finally, we have moved another step forward to realising our ambition of creating a world-class railway, with the appointment by HS2 Ltd of award winning designer Sadie Morgan as the chair of an independent design panel, which will advise on the delivery of the HS2 Design Vision, published today. This will set the bar for all future HS2 design.
I welcome this progress and am pleased to be able to report that the momentum of the HS2 project remains strong to deliver a railway which will be an engine for growth in our country.