Like many other countries, Britain is investing in high speed rail to create space on overcrowded networks and enable large numbers of people to move efficiently. The wider benefits of a high speed rail network in this country are also substantial, whether in economic terms, improved connections, an exciting and efficient travel experience or more comfortable, reliable local rail services.
The UK’s rail network is filling up and a solution is needed that doesn’t simply delay its saturation, but is able to cope with increasing demand for many years in the future. This means a new line that doesn’t physically overlap or affect existing regional services, releasing space on crowded freight routes and passenger trains, and takes long-distance travelers onto new high speed trains with fewer stops, completing their journeys more quickly.
In January 2012, following analysis of the responses to the consultation, which numbered around 55,000, the then Secretary of State for Transport announced that she had decided to proceed with HS2 Ltd’s recommended route between London and Birmingham, now known as Phase One. Broader recommendations for a wider network, linking Birmingham to Manchester, Leeds and points further north via the existing East and West Coast main lines (now known as Phase Two), as well as a spur to Heathrow Airport, were also accepted. HS2 Ltd is currently producing legislation for submission to Parliament, comprising an Environmental Statement on the Phase One route and a hybrid bill
On 28 January 2013, the Secretary of State announced the initial preferred routes for Phase Two, comprising a western branch of the high speed rail network connecting Birmingham and Manchester (via Manchester Airport); and an eastern branch connecting Birmingham with Leeds via a new East Midlands Hub at Toton and a new station at Sheffield Meadowhall.