29 June 2010
HS2 consultation likely to be delayed
The public consultation on the high speed rail route between London and Birmingham now seems likely to take place early next year.
Although no official announcement has been forthcoming from the Government, both the chairman and the chief executive of HS2 Ltd have told separate meetings that they expect the consultation to be moved from the present consultation date of the autumn.
This is because the company has been asked by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to consider new proposals for high speed rail, including bringing Heathrow into the high speed rail network and linking the HS1 route from London to Europe to HS2.
Buckinghamshire County Council chief executive Chris Williams told delegates at a HS2 Summit, called by the council, that Sir Brian Briscoe, chairman of HS2 Ltd, had told him consultation was unlikely to take place before spring of next year.
Meanwhile, Alison Munro, Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd, told representatives from Civic Societies in Aylesbury that she thought consultation would be in 2011.
The company is still continuing its work on environmental impacts, including noise, on the “preferred” route through the Chilterns.
It is expected that the company will produce its ideas for the wider remit later in the summer, possibly August.
11 June 2010
wider vision for high speed rail
Transport Minister Theresa Villiers told Parliament on Wednesday 9 June that the Government were intent on developing a “genuine high speed national high speed rail network.”
“It will be achieved in phases over a number of years and serve the East Midlands, Scotland and Wales… it will serve a much wider range of area than envisaged by the previous Government,” she told MPs at an adjournment debate on high speed rail.
Ms Villiers said that Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will report to Parliament “in due course” on the timetable for consultation. Currently it is proposed that consultation on the preferred route announced by the previous Government – which runs through the Chalfonts, Great Missenden and Wendover – is due to start in the autumn.
She added: “Our intention is to present a Hybrid Bill in the course of this Parliament so that enabling work can begin by 2015.”
The minister refused to confirm the Government would commit to the Y shape vision of HS2 as outlined by previous Government (a route from London to Birmingham via the Chilterns and then branching out to the north west and the north east), stressing that the Coalition was determined to bring about “a genuine high speed national network” that would not just stop at Birmingham.
In addition, she said Coalition was looking carefully at how HS2 can be integrated with Crossrail (a fast route from Maidenhead to East London) and they are “reconsidering and reviewing the right option for connecting Heathrow to the new network… integrating Heathrow to the high speed network.”
She reiterated that the case for high speed rail was “undeniable” and played “a core role in new Government’s vision”.