What is HS2 - The Government's case

The following are the opening words from the summary published by the Department for Transport in March 2010:

A National Strategy for High Speed Rail

In January 2009, the Government established High Speed Two Ltd (HS2 Ltd) to consider the options for a new high speed rail network in Britain, starting with a costed and deliverable proposal for a new line from London to Birmingham. HS2 Ltd's report was presented to the Government at the end of December 2009. It is published alongside the Command Paper today. It concludes that there is a strong business case for a new London to Birmingham line, and sets out detailed recommendations for the design of its route, together with a range of options for how it might be extended to serve other conurbations. The Government has evaluated these proposals in respect of their costs and benefits for enhancing capacity and connectivity in a sustainable way, which is its key strategic objective for inter-city transport. As part of its analysis, it has also considered other realistic options for meeting the UK's inter-urban capacity needs over the next 30 years, including carrying out a detailed analysis of the potential.

> View Department for Transport summary document

A "Command Paper" was also published at the same time that sets out the case for HS2 and the preferred route that was developed:

High Speed Rail

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Transport by Command of Her Majesty (March 2010)

The Government has considered a wide range of options for addressing Britain's long-term inter-city transport challenges, taking into account their impacts on capacity, connectivity and sustainability, as well as their financial costs. These included new motorways and railway lines, both conventional and high speed, an expansion in domestic aviation, and a number of major packages of improvements to existing networks .In respect of improving the networks linking England's principal conurbations, the Government has ruled out major new motorways and an expansion of domestic aviation on sustainability grounds. The growth in car travel enabled by entirely new High Speed Rail 13 major motorways would increase greenhouse gas emissions substantially, over and above the local environmental implications of such schemes. And new motorways would not in any case provide significant time savings for city centre to city centre journeys. A major expansion in domestic inter-city aviation is considered by the Government - in line with the Committee on Climate Change's advice in December 2009 - not to be a viable option due to long term constraints on aviation capacity. A detailed analysis has been carried out by the Government of the potential costs and benefits of improving existing road and rail networks, alongside the work done by HS2 Ltd on the case for new high speed and conventional railway lines. This assessment indicates that major, multi-billion pound upgrades to existing road and rail networks would provide far less additional capacity than a new railway line. Major upgrades also involve considerable disruption for travellers. Moreover, they yield few of the connectivity improvements which new high speed routes make possible - for example, transforming links between the West Midlands and other conurbations in the Midlands, the North and Scotland, in addition to substantially improving journey times to London. While entirely new conventional rail lines could address the long-term capacity constraints on the rail network, their net costs would be almost as high as those of high speed rail without delivering anything close to the same journey time benefits. High speed rail, in contrast, delivers against every one of the Government's key objectives. It offers dramatic connectivity benefits and journey time savings between major urban centres. It provides very significant capacity increases for long-distance travellers as well as releasing space on conventional networks for increased commuter and freight services. And it achieves this whilst remaining consistent with the Government's overall strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, HS2 Ltd's work suggests that a well-designed and managed high speed rail project, despite its substantial costs, could deliver high value for money, with well over £2 of benefits for every £1 spent. On the basis of this analysis, the Government's assessment is that high speed rail should be at the heart of its long term strategy to transform the UK's inter-urban transport networks.

> View Command Paper