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HS2 chair wants project to be completed ahead of schedule



Chair of the HS2 high speed rail line Sir David Higgins has said that the second phase of the project should be finished three years ahead of schedule and proposed a 43-mile extension to reach Crewe, in Cheshire.

Higgins says in a new government report that the second phase of HS2 – which would extend to Leeds and Manchester – should be completed by 2027 instead of 2033.

He added that Euston station has to be redeveloped and that plans to link HS1 and HS2 at London St Pancras should be put on hold in order to save £700 million.

Higgins told the BBC, “The section north of Birmingham to Crewe is relatively straightforward to build, and relatively lower-cost than other parts of the northern network”.

Campaigners from the 20 Miles More group, which would like to see the HS2 project extended to Liverpool, have called on the savings to be used for the extension.

The campaign’s chair Andrew Morris commented, “We welcome proposals to reduce the overall cost of HS2, but it presents a massive opportunity to recycle a part of the savings to achieve very significant economic rebalancing.

“The £1.5 billion that has been saved on costs around London is the amount needed to deliver the 20 miles that would link the Liverpool City region to HS2.”

Meanwhile, new opposition to the project has been lodged from archeologists and English Heritage, who claim that HS2 will disrupt many historical sites, such as the Chilterns, as well as many Tudor and Elizabethan buildings along the proposed line.

The HS2 scheme is already opposed by a number of environmental groups, who are worried about the impact that the rail line will have on woodlands and wildlife.

Further reading:

Government spends £63m buying homes affected by HS2 plans

Scrapping HS2 ‘would sacrifice UK investment and jobs’, rail industry claims

HS2: government assessment has ‘inaccuracies and omissions’, say conservationists

HS2 shows ‘shocking disregard’ for nature, says Woodland Trust

Fast-track HS2 through planning to cut costs, chair says in leaked reports