HS2 needs to happen, and faster. That’s the conclusion of David Higgins’s report on High Speed 2 out today. As well as backing up the government’s key arguments for the project on capacity grounds — not speed, which he says is a ‘by-product’ — the chairman of HS2 Ltd has made some recommendations for improving the project. Here are the key things you need to know about the Higgins report:
1. Extension to Crewe should happen in Phase One
Higgins suggests that the first phase of HS2 should include another 43 miles of track from Birmingham to Crewe. This would be brought forward from Phase Two and built by 2027, providing better connections to Stoke, Shrewsbury and Chester among others. Higgins said on the Today programme this morning the Crewe extension would be ‘relatively straightforward to build at relatively low cost’. Although money isn’t included in the Phase One budget, it has already been set aside for Phase Two.
2. Euston should be rebuilt on a grander scale
Describing the current station as a ‘mess’, Higgins has said the government should ‘aspire to do Euston properly’ when it is rebuilt as part of HS2 – echoing comments made by George Osborne last month. The report outlines a ‘level deck design’ similar to St Pancras, which would ‘enable access from one side of the station to the other, better connecting the station to the local area and community’. Higgins believes this would ‘maximise the aesthetic and jobs impact of the rebuilt station.'
3. HS2 shouldn’t necessarily be linked to HS1
For another £700 million, plans are afoot to connect HS2 to the High Speed 1 line running to Dover and mainland Europe.