HS2 has once again been in the news. (Picture: HS2/PA Wire)
HS2 never seems to be far from the headlines, with the high-speed rail project often proving controversial.
From concerns over budgeting to archaeological and environmental worries, High Speed 2 has had its fair share of critics.
However, champions for the project point to increased rail capacity, quicker connection times, and the potential for economic benefits.
The government at first refused to refute reports that HS2 might not reach central London before chancellor Jeremy Hunt dismissed the rumours. As such, let’s look back over the project’s history.
Here’s what you need to know.
When did HS2 start?
HS1 was the 109km rail line that runs from St Pancras International in London and the Channel Tunnel and international high-speed routes, opening in 2007.
HS2 was first investigated by the Labour government in January 2009, during Gordan Brown’s tenure in Number Ten.
A consolation on a route from Birmingham to London, extending to Manchester and Leeds, was subsequently published in 2010.
The first phase of HS2 was designed to link Birmingham and London. (Picture: Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
In 2012, the project was confirmed as going ahead, with a bill being introduced to parliament the following year.
In 2016, the National Audit Office warned that the project was looking like it would be delayed and potentially over budget, with the HS2 chief executive resigning months later.
The bill to make the project a reality received royal ascent, and work began in 2017.
It was the Conservative government in power in 2019 that first commissioned a review into whether the project should continue. Reports and reviews since have been both published and leaked, claiming the project will be delayed and over budget.
Then PM Boris Johnson recommitted to the project in 2020 after another review.
Who is building HS2?
HS2 ltd is responsible for the construction of the high-speed rail project.
The gov.uk site describes HS2 ltd as ‘the company responsible for developing and promoting the UK’s new high speed rail network. It is funded by grant-in-aid from the government.’
It works with various suppliers, contractors, and sub-contractors.
What is the HS2 route?
Phase one of the project is due to connect Birmingham and London, with subsequent steps connecting Birmingham and Manchester, and Manchester and Leeds.
The planned HS2 route in three phases (Picture: HS2 / Metro.co.uk)
However, a decision was made to scrap the eastern leg of the HS2 addition beyond Birmingham in 2020, with the Leeds leg of the extension set to be replaced by a different rail plan.
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HS2 is back in the headlines.