What is HS2?
HS2 (High Speed 2) is a planned new high-speed railway line between London and the midlands and north of England, comprised of two stages: Phase One, a new railway line from London to Birmingham (due to open between 2029 and 2033); and Phase Two, which will provide connections from Birmingham to Crewe and Manchester (which will open in full between 2036 and 2040).
Original plans for Phase Two would have connected HS2 with Leeds. However, in November 2021 the Integrated Rail Plan announced that these plans have been scrapped in favour of upgrades of existing routes.
HS2 was first proposed by the Labour government in 2010, and the Coalition Government announced the project would go ahead in 2012. This cross-party support was matched by advocates from political and business leaders in the north of England – who opposed to the downgrading of plans in November 2021. However, there are also many groups who oppose HS2 in civic society – ranging from Extinction Rebellion to the Taxpayers Alliance – who oppose the project. Particular, there is political opposition in places on or adjacent to the route that have been disrupted by works.
Estimates vary on the likely total cost of HS2: the latest Department for Transport estimates suggest the total cost will be between £72 billion and £98 billion; the Oakervee Review, a government commissioned audit, suggested the total cost could be over £100 billion.