High Speed Rail: Government Response to the Committee's Tenth Report of Session 2010-12 - Transport Committee Contents

Government response


The Transport Select Committee issued its report, High Speed Rail, on 8 November 2012 in which it makes a total of 23 recommendations. The Government's response to each of the Committee's recommendations is set out below.

The Government should set out in more detail than what is available in the business plan not only why HS2 is desirable but how it fits within an overall transport strategy (from Paragraph 21)


The Government should explain more clearly that growing demand is to be welcomed and fostered for strategic reasons, and why this doesn't apply to road and air. (from Paragraph 44)

The Government agrees that the case for HS2 should be made as strongly as possible, both within the context of rail infrastructure and the wider transport network. The 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network' that has been published today articulates the strategic need for HS2, making clear how HS2 can inspire economic growth, why it is the right solution for the country, and why it is not desirable to foster the same type of growth on roads or air.

Although these recommendations are specifically addressed in section 4.3 (4.3.1 to 4.3.8) of the 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network', the messages are embedded throughout the document in order to demonstrate the importance of HS2 in meeting the country's needs through sustainable means.

The forthcoming White Paper on Rail and the sustainable frameworks for aviation should fully reflect the impact on both modes of the creation of a UK high speed rail network (from Paragraph 21)


The Government needs to make clear how HS2 fits into a wider aviation strategy. (from Paragraph 76)

The Department for Transport will publish a Command Paper on Rail Reform early in 2012. This will allow the Command Paper to properly reflect the consequences of our decision to progress a national high speed rail network.

The interplay between HS2 and aviation will be an important aspect in future transport planning. The scoping document on developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation, published in March 2011, sets out that the Government expects that, in the longer term, demand for some domestic and near-European short-haul aviation could be met by high speed rail. The scoping document sought views and evidence on a series of questions on strategic aviation issues, including on how to encourage a switch from domestic air travel to rail, and how to maximise the benefits from any future high speed rail network for aviation.

The Government's Sustainable Framework for Aviation is due to be published for consultation in March 2012, and will make clear the strategic links between aviation and high speed rail.

Further detail on this matter can be found in chapter 7 (7.3.15 to 7.3.24) of the 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network'.

The Government should publish a summary of the financial case for HS2 including assumptions which persuade Ministers that the scheme will be affordable alongside sustained investment in the classic network. This should include projected capital and revenue expenditure profiles, how these compare with DfT spend profiles for the rest of the rail network and transport, and any underlying assumptions about financial contributions from non-DfT sources (from Paragraph 27)

The business case for HS2, which includes the financial case, will continually evolve throughout the development of the scheme. Therefore, we will look to make available information on the financial implications of the project to make clear the financial aspects of HS2.

The Government should announce its priorities for funding in Control Period 5 (2014-19) alongside the publication of a financial case as part of its High Level Output Specification (HLOS) and Statement of Funds (from Paragraph 27)


The Government should make a clear statement about the status of possible complementary schemes such as those which would link Heathrow to the GWML from the west or to Gatwick (from Paragraph 104)

It is important that we assess schemes and improvements thoroughly. Although the impacts of HS2 would form part of the consideration of assessing schemes where appropriate, every individual scheme still needs to stand on its merits and requires a strong business case. The work on developing the priorities for the High Level Output Specification (HLOS) is currently underway and will complete in July 2011. Therefore we are not in a position to publish the spending priorities for the next Network Rail Control Period at this time, but we remain committed to the original publication timetable.

The Government must recognise as a priority that local economic partnerships and integrated transport authorities will need support — not least with funding —to ensure that there are regional economic benefits from HS2. (from Paragraph 58)

The Government recognises the importance of spreading the benefits that HS2 will bring, particularly when it comes to the UK's major conurbations and their surrounding areas. Going forward, HS2 Ltd, authorities at a local level (including Local Enterprise Partnerships), and Government will work together to ensure that planning for HS2 and local strategies work together to make the most of the opportunities that HS2 will provide. This will be an ongoing process, and local bodies will need to play a leading role in to developing local strategies.

With regards to local funding, 1 am currently considering the best approach for funding of local major transport schemes. The Government believes that local decisions should be taken at a local level, and wherever possible and appropriate, we will look to devolve authority to allow localities to plan and utilise their resources to deliver solutions that work for their community.

Further detail on this matter can be found in chapter 4 (4.3.10 to 4.3.15) of the 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network'.

There should be an urgent strategic appraisal of Phase 2 before a final decision is made on Phase 1. No decision should be taken before strategic information on Phase 2 is published, appraised and consulted upon. (from Paragraphs 63 and 87)

Although the Government appreciates the difficulties some people may face in understanding the full impacts of a Y network without route proposals for the Manchester, Leeds and Heathrow legs of HS2, the Government remains convinced that it was appropriate to consult on the strategy for high speed rail and the London to West Midlands route as a first step.

From a practicality perspective, the routes for the Y legs of HS2 are still under development and therefore these routes could not have been consulted upon at the same time as the first consultation. If the Government had delayed the consultation until the Y route proposals were ready, it would have changed the timetable and likely delivery of HS2 significantly, which would lead to exacerbation of the capacity issues on the railway, and reduce opportunities for growth.

Further detail on this matter can be found in chapter 8 (8.3.3 to 8.3.8) of the 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network'.

A full assessment of the case for building north to south has not been undertaken and should be done as a priority (from Paragraph 63)

Some consultation responses suggested that the construction of HS2 should start from the north rather than the south, as the north of the country has the greatest need for economic development. Although this would be possible from an engineering perspective, it would not be desirable for a number of reasons. Firstly, part of the purpose of HS2 is to provide additional capacity to the railway where it is needed most. As stated in Network Rail's Rail Utilisation Strategy, the West Coast Main Line, particularly the southern end, will essentially be full by 2024. As a major artery on the UK's railway, it is important that capacity on this route is boosted to support growth. Secondly, one of the key benefits for northern cities is the connection to London and the South East. Without an improved link to the south, the benefits to the north would be significantly reduced. Finally, the proposed station locations and line of route are still being developed by HS2 Ltd, meaning it would be incredibly challenging to try and pass a hybrid Bill within this Parliament if we had to wait for the Y legs of HS2.

Further detail on this matter can be found in chapter 6.5 of the 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network'.

We are concerned that the decision to build a 250mph line has prematurely ruled out other route options such as building alongside an existing motorway corridor such as the M40 or Ml/M6 (from Paragraph 68)

In response to oral evidence provided to the Transport Select Committee and responses to consultation, HS2 Ltd undertook more detailed studies into routes following the M40 and M1 corridors at a reduced design speed of 186mph.

The conclusions of this work suggest that the slightly reduced impact on people and the environment is mainly due to more of the route being in tunnel rather than it following an existing transport corridor. In addition, moving the routes would reduce the impacts on some built up areas but at the expense of others, and would result in a slower journey time, which would reduce benefits. Based on this, the Government believe that designing at a lower speed to follow motorway corridors would not provide the benefits to justify it, and the route announced today is the superior option.

Further detail on this matter can be found in section 3 of the 'Review of HS2 London to West Midlands Route Selection and Speed', produced by HS2 Ltd.

When HS2 Ltd provides the SoS with an updated Economic case for HS2, it should provide a comparative assessment on the basis of reduced crowding, with lower value attached to time savings. The implications for the scheme design should be made explicit, and this assessment should also be applied to alternatives to HS2 (from Paragraph 69)

The updated Economic Case provides evidence-based monetary values for each individual element of the transport user benefits (including crowding and time savings). The case has been developed using tried and tested DfT methodology and aims to provide an accurate as possible reflection of the economic outputs of HS2. Although the values could be changed to place greater emphasis on crowding reductions and less emphasis on time savings, we believe that this would provide an inaccurate benefit cost ratio. Therefore, we do not believe it would be helpful to produce benefit cost ratios on anything other than what is the best reflection of reality.

The Government should reassess the proposal to connect directly to Heathrow based on the assumption that the network will extend to Manchester and Leeds (from Paragraph 76)

The assessment for a spur that would allow direct HS2 trains from Birmingham to Heathrow airport as outlined in the Government's consultation was based on a network to Manchester and Leeds being in place. Therefore, the assumptions that the high speed line would extend to Manchester and Leeds are already assumed when considering a spur to Heathrow.

HS2 should not be promoted as a carbon reduction scheme, as at best it has the potential to make a small contribution to the Government's carbon reduction targets. The Government should make rapid progress with reducing carbon emissions from UK electricity generation. (from Paragraph 77)

The key aims of HS2 have always been to tackle the capacity issues we will face on our railway and to help foster economic growth in a manner that is consistent with the UK's carbon objectives. The Government has always been clear that overall, we expect that the first phase of HS2 will be broadly carbon neutral, and we have not aimed at promoting HS2 as a carbon reduction scheme. However, with the Y network in place it is likely to attract people away from more polluting modes which will contribute towards achieve the UK's obligations outlined in the 2008 Climate Change Act.

Further detail on this matter can be found in chapter 4 (4.8.1 to 4.8.7) of the 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network'.

The revised business plan should take into account the Government's new approach to economic appraisal, which places monetary value on natural capital. It should also make explicit whether this approach would suggest changes to the alignment or design of the route proposed by HS2 Ltd. We encourage Government to place greater emphasis on following existing transport corridors (from Paragraph 83)

When considering the value for money of HS2, the department assessed the impact of the scheme upon natural capital, placing a monetary value on this where possible. This takes into account the impact of HS2 upon landscape, biodiversity and water resources. Further details can be found in the 'Economic Case for HS2: Value for Money Statement', published today.

This assessment does not consider whether the value of natural capital would change the route alignment. However, the effect of following existing transport corridors has been looked at in line with the Committee's recommendation regarding the M40 and M1 corridors.

The Government recognises that although it is important to try and monetise natural capital, a monetary value will never capture the entirety of impacts in relation to a scheme such as HS2. That is why we are clear that the Environmental Impact Assessment undertaken for HS2 will take into consideration the wider impacts and offer solutions for how these could be mitigated. DfT is working with other Government Departments to consider how changes to the way we value natural capital can be incorporated into transport appraisal guidance.

The Government should engage with Network Rail to identify whether there are affordable options, including rolling stock, infrastructure or timetable improvements which would enable more peak time capacity to be provided for Milton Keynes and Northampton commuters in the interim period. (from Paragraph 94)

London Midland are already working with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to deliver speed improvements on their service which would allow their existing 350 Desiro rolling stock to run at 110mph, resulting in faster journey times for travel between Milton Keynes/Northampton and London, more peak trains to and from London, and more seating during the peak.

London Midland is currently consulting on their proposals for improvement, which could be in place in 2012. The Department for Transport will work with them and Network Rail to help deliver better journeys for commuters from Milton Keynes and Northampton.

The Government should provide a more explicit and comprehensive statement of the likely patterns of service on the classic network post HS2 as part of the decision announcement (from Paragraph 95)

As part of the public consultation, HS2 Ltd provided an indicative service specification for HS2 and the West Coast Main Line for modelling purposes. This provided an illustration of what services on the conventional rail network could look like in a post HS2 world, and helps to demonstrate the freed capacity benefits. However, with the London to West Midlands section of HS2 not opening for service until 2026, a timetable for a network that includes HS2 would be developed closer to the opening, so that it takes into account changes in the rail market and works to address the needs of passengers and the country at the time.

The Government understands the appetite for information on how the benefits of freed capacity on the conventional rail network may be utilised to deliver new and/or better services. That is why the former Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, commissioned Passenger Focus and Network Rail to undertake a study into how capacity on the West Coast Main Line could be used post HS2. Network Rail have published a high level summary of early findings, and will undertake detailed analysis next year with the aim of providing greater clarity over the potential for services on the West Coast Main Line.

The Government should set out more clearly for comparison the costs and benefits of routing HS2 via Heathrow (and of making it the principle interchange station to the west of London) so that there can be better understanding of the pros and cons (from Paragraph 104)

In addition to the Committee's recommendation, a number of responses to consultation raised this proposal. In response HS2 Ltd undertook further work to assess the potential of routing directly via Heathrow.

Although this proposal may be attractive in terms of slightly faster journeys to Heathrow, there are certain issues that mean it would deliver lower value. Firstly, the majority of passengers that will use' HS2 will want to travel into central London rather than to Heathrow. If the line routed via Heathrow (or if it were the London Terminus), it would create a time penalty for the majority of passengers who don't want to access Heathrow, but want to travel between London and the West Midlands. Secondly, Lord Mawhinney's report suggested that a line via Heathrow would be more expensive than a spur approach, making it less attractive.

Therefore, the Government believes that Heathrow should be served via a transfer at Old Oak Common under the first phase, and via a spur under a second phase, the detail of which is being developed by HS2 Ltd and will be consulted on separately as part of the proposals for a full Y network.

Further detail on this matter can be found in chapter 3.4 of the 'Review of HS2 London to West Midlands Route Selection and Speed' produced by HS2 Ltd, and in chapter 7 (7.3.33 to 7.3.38) of the 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network'.

We need to further consider capacity north of Lichfield in the interim period between Phases 1 & 2, and the lack of services to Leeds and beyond until 2032. This includes the possibility of a connection between HS2 and the Birmingham-Derby line and the Midland Main Line in Phase 1 to provide access to the north east (from Paragraph 111)

It is important that as many areas as possible benefit from HS2 as soon as it is operational, with services and capacity that meet the country's needs. Whilst it is true that a 200m HS2 train would have less capacity than a 11-car Pendolino, HS2 Ltd has confirmed through discussions with train manufacturers that modern high speed train design means that longer HS2 trains could be provided to serve markets further north on the classic network such as Manchester.

In addition, the issue of slower HS2 journeys than at present on the WCML have been addressed through works with Network Rail to consider how small infrastructure improvements could reduce journey times. This work has meant that the time penalty to Glasgow would be reduced to 4 minutes — 3 minutes faster than the assumptions used to develop the business case for HS2.

Further detail on this matter can be found in section 9 of the 'Review of the Technical Specification for High Speed Rail in the UK' advice to Government, produced by HS2 Ltd.

HS2 Ltd also re-examined their earlier options for connecting to the Midlands Main Line as part of Phase 1 of HS2. This found that whilst there is an engineering solution that is technically possible (subject to further electrification works), the issues of designing the connection, assessing environmental impacts, public consultation, and engineering work would not be possible within the timeframe for a hybrid Bill for Phase 1, and could impact on a hybrid Bill for Phase 2.

Further detail on this matter can be found in section 7.3 of the 'Review of HS2 London to West Midlands Route Selection and Speed', produced by HS2 Ltd.

The Government should publish full details of the technical basis for its assertion that 18 trains per hour, or more, are feasible. It should also set out how more capacity could be added (beyond doubling up of sets) to provide for more than 18 trains per hour in the future (from Paragraph 116)

A number of consultation responses echoed the Committee's concern over the feasibility of running 18 trains per hour. As such, HS2 Ltd undertook a programme of work to explore the issues of capacity, which included work on signalling headways, system capabilities and maximum operational capacity, and reliability. The summary of the reports from this work were published in late October 2011, titled 'Summary report on the capacity and capability for the high speed network'.

The conclusions of these reports were that it is appropriate to continue to develop HS2 proposals on the basis of 18 trains per hour running on the core trunk of HS2 between London and the West Midlands. The reports do however identify the significant technical, operational and planning requirements underpinning achievement of 18 trains per hour, which will form the basis of design work going forward to confirm the ongoing achievement of this assumed capacity level.

The detailed evaluation of this work is outlined in the document mentioned above, and is also discussed in section 3 of the 'Review of the Technical Specification for High Speed Rail in the UK' advice to Government, produced by HS2 Ltd.

The Government should firmly commit to the Y network before seeking Parliamentary approval for HS2. It should clarify those works that would be included in Phase 1 to enable Phase 2 to proceed, including any works for interim arrangements. (from Paragraph 122)


The Government should include a purpose clause in the hybrid Bill authorising the construction of the HS2 line from London to the West Midlands, which provides statutory force to its commitment to continue the high speed rail network at least as far as Manchester and Leeds. (from Paragraph 122)

The Government is committed to developing a full Y shaped network for HS2, and although we believe that a phased approach is the best and most efficient way to delivering this network, we agree with the Committee that we should reassure stakeholders that the entire network will be delivered. That is why we are looking into all possibilities to provide such assurance, including the option of having a purpose clause in the hybrid Bill for phase 1. We are confident that the Government can find an appropriate solution to provide confidence in the delivery of the Y.

Further detail on this matter can be found in chapter 6.3 of the 'Review of the Government's Strategy for a National High Speed Rail Network'.

The Government should reassess whether terminating at either Old Oak Common or another station on the Crossrail network might not be a more effective solution than having Euston as the terminating station (from Paragraph 107)

As published in the consultation documentation, HS2 Ltd considered 27 different station locations in London when developing the proposed route, which included terminus stations at Old Oak Common and other major London stations.

Old Oak Common was dismissed as a terminating station because the majority of passengers using HS2 would want to travel into central London. If Old Oak Common was the terminating London station, passengers would have to change onto another train or mode of transport to continue into central London, creating a time penalty that would reduce the benefits of HS2 and cause inconvenience to the majority of passengers.

Euston was the best option for a HS2 London terminus as it currently has a footprint wide enough to accommodate a number of high speed platforms, with minimal land take in the surrounding area. In addition, it is already well connected to London's transport system and could support the wider regeneration of the Euston area and help support job creation around Euston.

Further detail on this matter can be found in section 5.2 of the 'Review of HS2 London to West Midlands Route Selection and Speed' produced by HS2 Ltd.

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Prepared 23 January 2012