This paper provides general information on the proposed high-speed rail line between London and the North of England (HS2). It gives a brief overview of the scheme, its costs, compensation arrangements and the Bill, which would give statutory and planning authority for the construction of Phase 2a of the scheme between the West Midlands and Crewe.

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.

This paper deals with Phase 2a of the HS2 scheme to Crewe. The Government announced its preferred route in November 2015; launched compensation schemes and safeguarded the route. The hybrid bill to authorise the works for Phase 2a was published in July 2017. It received Second Reading in the House of Commons in January 2018, after which it went into a specially convened Select Committee where Petitions against the Bill are heard. On 7 June 2019 the Committee published their third and final report. The Bill was considered in Public Bill Committee on 25 June 2019 and passed without amendment. 

A guide to the (recently revised) hybrid bill process can be found in HC Library briefing paper CBP 6736.

Information on Phase 1 and Phase 2b of HS2 can be found in HC Library briefing papers CBP 316 and CBP 8071, respectively. 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.

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