HS2 gains Royal Assent

Posted: 23 February 2017 | | No comments yet

The HS2 Bill gained Royal Assent today after three years of Parliamentary scrutiny, paving the way for the new rail line that will increase capacity on Britain’s railways while also connecting the biggest cities and generating jobs and economic growth.

The HS2 Bill gained Royal Assent today after three years of Parliamentary scrutiny, paving the way for a new rail line that will increase capacity on Britain’s railways while also connecting the biggest cities and generating jobs and economic growth.

The Royal Assent sees the launch of schemes totalling £70 million for passengers along the route between Birmingham and London, while HS2 will create around 25,000 jobs during construction and will support growth in the wider economy worth around 100,000 jobs.

From 2026 thousands of passengers will be using high speed trains daily between London and Birmingham and services will travel onwards to places like Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Preston and Wigan. From 2033 the network will go into the centres of Manchester and Leeds and services will go onwards to places such as Darlington, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) hybrid Bill (which is essentially the planning application for HS2) received overwhelming support from MPs with 399 to 42 in favour in the Bill’s third reading in the Commons while in the Lords, 386 to 26 were in support of the Bill passing.

A comprehensive package of compensation and assistance for those directly affected by HS2 had previously been introduced by the government and today, schemes for communities along the route worth £70 million have been launched. These are:

  • The Homeowner Payment (HOP) scheme – available to property owners in rural areas who live between 120 and 300 metres from the HS2 line wherever it is not in a deep tunnel.
  • The Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF) – worth £40 million, these are now open for bids. The CEF will enhance community facilities and the BLEF will support local economies.
  • Local road safety schemes will receive £30 million in areas not currently accustomed to construction traffic.

Industry reactions

Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail: “This is a major milestone for HS2 and Britain. The new high-speed line will boost north-south links, add much-needed space on the railway for more and faster trains, and support economic growth.”

The Chairman of HS2, David Higgins: “Achieving Royal Assent is a monumental step in transforming rail travel in Britain. It will directly create some 25,000 jobs as well as forcing the pace of innovation in the construction industry.”

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling: “Getting the go-ahead to start building HS2 is a massive boost to the UK’s future economic prosperity and a further clear signal that Britain is open for business. HS2 will be the world’s most advanced passenger railway and the backbone of our rail network.”

Jo Hensher, Bid Director, HS2 Rolling Stock at Siemens: “We believe that HS2 can be a real driver for economic growth. It will not only significantly improve capacity across the network by alleviating pressure on already congested lines but will also go a long way to making Britain the most connected island in the world, delivering a long-term solution to a very real problem.”

Infrastructure Partner at law firm Ashurst, Mark Elsey: “This represents a significant milestone in the parliamentary process enabling the project to proceed. Publicly the Government appears to be fully committed to the scheme but no doubt there will be considerable pressures behind the scenes to ensure the project remains affordable.”

Councillor Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council: “Together with residents, community groups and businesses, we’ve challenged the HS2 Bill every step of the way to limit the worst effects of what will be nearly two decades of construction disruption for Camden. After years fighting for fairer compensation for Camden residents, the Government has finally agreed to offer compensation that is ‘fair, reasonable and proportionate’ to those living in urban areas – we now need to see the details of this new scheme as soon as possible.”

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