Secretary of State for Transport seeks to accelerate HS2

A new Hybrid Bill for phase 2 of HS2 will be prepared in the current Parliamentary sessions Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin announced this week.

“I want to see if we can bring HS2 to Crewe faster than planned, subject to further analysis and a decision on the preferred route,” he said addressing an audience in Leeds. "The argument’s been won. HS2 will be built. The full ‘Y’ network from London to Birmingham and Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds,” he said. “I’m determined to deliver the benefits to the north as fast as possible. So I’ll prepare a dedicated Hybrid Bill in this Parliament. And we’re not forgetting the eastern leg either,” he continued. “We’ll make our Phase Two announcements this autumn.”

McLoughlin also told the audience that the government was looking at ways to use the HS2 line to introduce faster regional services and that £13bn would be invested on northern transport initiatives during the current Parliament.

He said that the DfT was considering the case for speeding up construction of the Sheffield to Leeds section of HS2 and said that the line would allow government to reorganise and improve commuter routes across Yorkshire creating more room for local trains and rail freight, and relieving congestion on Yorkshire’s roads.

Plans for high speed rail links across the north, often referred to as HS3 were also reconfirmed. “We’re moving forward with plans for a new high speed rail links, running right across the north. From Liverpool in the west, to Hull in the east,” he said explaining that the links would slash journey times, boost capacity and help bind the north into a single, powerful economic force.

Overseeing transport investment in the north will be the partnership organisation Transport for the North which McLoughlin said would have a chairperson later this year. “By the autumn, Transport for the North will have a new independent chair who will truly speak on behalf of the north with one voice,” he said. “By working with TfN, we’ll upgrade the road network. Maybe a new road tunnel under the Peak District. And major upgrades to other east-west routes.”

Other plans reiterated include a new freight strategy for the north, and integrated, trans-north smart ticketing system. “It’s an exciting programme that will bring massive benefits to the region.”

McLoughlin also confirmed that construction of Phase 1 for HS2 would start in 2017 and said that the Hybrid Bill was the number one Bill for the current session. “This is the best opportunity in well over a century to level the playing field between north and south. With transport connections that match the very best in Europe. So let’s get the message out there. Start preparing now. Because HS2 is coming.”

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