This briefing answers Frequently Asked Questions about the railways in Great Britain, including railway ownership and funding; timetabling; the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail; ticket fare increases; HS2; Northern Powerhouse Rail; and railway electrification.
Documents to download
HS2 is a proposed infrastructure project to build a high-speed rail line from London to Manchester and Leeds, via Birmingham, to begin operation in 2026 and be completed in 2033. It was supported by the Labour Government after 2009 and has had the support of the Conservatives in government since May 2010.
HS2 is planned to be delivered in three phases:
- Phase 1 from London Euston to Birmingham Curzon Street and Lichfield with intermediate stations in West London (at old Oak Common) and at Birmingham Airport;
- Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe; and
- Phase 2b comprising an eastern leg from the West Midlands to Leeds New Lane with intermediate stations in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire; and a western leg from Crewe to Manchester with an intermediate station at Manchester Airport.
In total, the Government has estimated that the scheme will cost £55.7 billion in 2015 prices (including rolling stock).
Despite enjoying widespread support across all parties in Parliament the scheme remains controversial outside, with disagreements regarding the economic and environmental cases for the scheme. Many of those who will be directly affected by the construction of the route are concerned for the future. The scheme has passionate supporters and opponents who, for the past seven or eight years, have argued across a variety of fora, including Parliament, as to whether the scheme would deliver enough in the way of benefits to justify the price tag. These debates continue.
The Government is moving ahead with planning for the next phase of the scheme – construction and operation. This includes tendering for and awarding contracts, including the future ‘West Coast Partnership’ franchise, the winner of which will operate the first high speed services on the HS2 line from 2026.
General background information on the HS2 scheme can be found in RP11/75.
Maps showing the Parliamentary constituencies through which HS2 runs can be found attached to the landing page for this paper.
Further briefings are available on the Railways Topical Page of the Parliament website.
Documents to download
This briefing provides an overview of Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), a programme of strategic rail investments designed to improve connectivity between cities and towns in the North of England. The briefing covers the Government's proposed route, cost and schedule for the programme as well as commentary on the Government's proposals.
This briefing provides an overview of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, the Government's White Paper on rail reform, and some of the key challenges ahead for the railway in Great Britain, along with an explanation of the arrangements the Government has put in place to ensure services continued to run during the Covid-19 pandemic. This briefing also provides an overview of the current system and how the railway in Great Britain has been structured over the last 30 years.