Higgins urges fast-tracking HS2 to save costs

Aaron Morby 5 years ago
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HS2 chief executive Sir David Higgins has set out plans to fast-track the £43bn high speed railway project to peg costs.

He says there is a compelling case for starting UK’s biggest ever infrastructure project in the south and north as soon as possible, as part of the main thrust of his report into saving Government cash.

Report: vision for HS2

The new HS2 project chief also calls for politicians from all parties to lend their backing to the scheme and speed the passage of the necessary legislation through Parliament.

Sir David sets out plans to accelerate phase two north of Birmingham.

This would take the line 43 miles further north than planned, to a new transport hub at Crewe in Cheshire which could be completed by 2027, six years earlier than planned.

Higgins is also understood to have found £1.5bn savings around London, and recommends scrapping a proposed link between HS2 and the HS1 the Channel Tunnel route priced at up to £500m.

But he will also call for reinstatement of more grandiose plans for a major rebuild of Euston station, paid for through property development around the site.

Sir David, the former London Olympics supremo, will said: “The cost and impact have to be recognised and acknowledged, but so too do the cost and impact of doing nothing.

‘Without HS2, the people of this country will continue to face the failures of our transport system on a daily basis.”

Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said: “This report will help build confidence in the budget, delivery and benefits of HS2.

“The best way to keep a lid on costs is to move to the construction stage quickly and we would urge politicians on all sides of the House to get behind this important project.

Hall added: “HS2 will connect eight of our 10 largest cities and boost local economies along the route, and the proposed interchange at Crewe is particularly good news for the north.

“The North London line is a busy commuter route and it therefore makes sense to reconsider how we link to HS1.

“We would urge HS2 and the Department for Transport to come up with a workable alternative swiftly.”

Campaigners spearheading the case for a direct HS2 link to Liverpool have seized on the report’s findings.

Now they are calling on HS2  to recycle identified cost savings from London into improved connections for Liverpool and the North.

Andrew Morris, Chair of 20 Miles More said: “We welcome proposals to reduce the overall cost of HS2, but it presents a massive opportunity to recycle a part of the savings to achieve very significant economic rebalancing.

‘The £1.5bn that has been saved on costs around London is the amount needed to deliver the 20 miles that would link the Liverpool City Region to HS2.”

 

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