HS2 will not delay £7b HS3 project

Work on the East-West rail route will commence before the completion of the HS2 project to the benefit of Northern cities.

That is according to Sir David Higgins, chairman of HS2, who attended a major event in Leeds on Monday where he was joined by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, who all agree the HS3 scheme needs to happen if the North-South economic divide is to be addressed.

The £50bn HS2 network is planned to run from London to Birmingham and then to Leeds and Manchester by the mid 2030s.

HS3 would provide faster direct routes across the Pennines between Liverpool and Hull.

The line – which will link Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Hull – is expected to ramp up around £7bn in costs.

Sir David said better rail links in northern England were “desirable” and “possible” after being asked to research ways of maximising the benefits of HS2.

The government said it would now develop a strategy looking at options, costs and a delivery timetable for HS3. Although no time scales have been announced, a more detailed report will be published in March. The current timetable is for HS2 to be completed by 2033 with a budget of £42.6bn.

Speaking at an event at Leeds Civic Hall, Sir David said that because HS3 won’t be a new rail line, it can be done in stages and tied in with other Northern programmes. “It doesn’t have to wait for HS2 to finish,” he said.

“HS3 is not a 250 mph railway line it will be a 125 mph line – as it doesn’t need to get that fast. It will look like a conventional rail line. We don’t need to build new tunnels, we can upgrade existing ones and look at the electrification of lines.”

There will be a few options under consideration, ranging from a new track to upgrading parts of the existing route and building lots of new tunnels or reopening some existing, unused tunnels.

When asked will HS3 happen, Sir David said:

“HS3 will happen if both the public and political parties get behind it.”

The Prime Minister admitted that it was a flaw of the original HS2 plans to miss out East-West connections.

“This is about overall plan to transform the country and transform the northern cities. This is a massive reaffirmation of HS2 that it’s the right decision in terms of connectivity and cutting journey times. It connects eight of the best 10 biggest cities in our country.”

“There’s a real vision behind this – the real vision is about rebalancing the economy. I think it is great that cities in the north have come together. This is the right approach for our country. I am so pleased to give green light to the next stage of this project.”

Source: The Business Desk


Words: Daniel Pearce

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