Britain’s Railways

Why do we need to build HS2?

Without HS2, Britain will become increasingly disconnected. Key transport arteries, whether roads or railways, will become more and more clogged, holding back economic growth in many of our bigger cities and in the regions outside London. Building HS2 is about the UK’s international competitiveness for a half century or more and reconnecting Britain to growth, to economic opportunity, and above all to itself. Developing high speed rail will address crippling capacity problems we are facing but will also bring our largest cities closer than ever before. This will make Britain a better, more attractive place to live and do business, making high speed rail an essential asset as we continue to compete in a global race for jobs and growth.

Why do we need extra capacity?

Currently, our rail system is facing a crippling capacity crunch. Rail usage has grown dramatically since privatisation two decades ago, recording annual growth rates of more than 5 per cent, with the number of journeys almost doubling to more than 1.2bn. The West Coast Main line – the rail backbone of Britain which links London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and Scotland – will be full in less than a decade if the passenger growth seen over the past decade continues. By 2020, another 400 million rail journeys will be made every year. Upgrading the existing infrastructure is not a viable long-term solution, although on the WCML a full upgrade would bring a 53% capacity increase, long-term the country needs the line to be able to take more. A new high speed rail line is the only long-lasting solution and will mean 18 new services travelling north-south every hour, trebling the number of seats into Euston from 11,300 to 34,900 an hour – increasing capacity by 143%.

How would HS2 help connectivity?

18 of Britain’s cities and their people will be better connected either directly or indirectly by HS2, bringing jobs and regeneration and rebalancing our economy in the process. Improved connections will allow companies, especially those in the North and the Midlands, to do business with each other, as well as with businesses abroad, more easily and more effectively. By way of example, the travel time between Sheffield and Birmingham will be reduced from 1 hr 37 minutes to just 38 minutes.

Why invest in rail rather than other forms of transport?

Rail is a high-capacity option to address some of the transport problems facing our country. HS2 will have benefits for the wider transport network and will complement other infrastructure projects that are part of the UK’s £70 billion of investment in transport projects to 2020. Projections indicate HS2 will take 9.8million journeys off the roads, including hundreds of HGVs per hour, and 5.4 million journeys out of the skies. Not only does this ease congestion on our roads and at our airports it will also have significant environmental and economic advantages.

Surely we could have lots more train lines for this price?

HS2 is not just about creating better journeys for those cities on the new route. It will also open up lots of new journey possibilities on high speed rail for cities such as Liverpool or Cardiff that connect to HS2. When HS2 is built you will be able to get direct trains from Birmingham to Liverpool, and from Cardiff to Newcastle using part of the new high speed rail, as the trains will be designed to transition from high speed to the existing conventional track seamlessly. And by getting more passengers off the conventional railway and onto high speed rail, we are also freeing up capacity for train lines to improve other local services. HS2’s impact will not just be felt in the direct cities it serves, but across the entire network.

What’s wrong with our existing rail network?

A new North-South train line hasn’t been built in this country for 120 years. We have done a great job of making do and mending when it comes to our railways, but we cannot continue to leave the fundamental issues unaddressed. Journeys on intercity trains doubled between 1997 to 2013 to 128 million a year and by the mid 2020s the West Coast Main Line will be completely full. Even now during the morning peak there are on average 4,000 people standing on arrival into London Euston and 5,000 people standing on arrival into Birmingham. Now is the time to realise that our existing infrastructure cannot stand the increasing demand or integrate the newest technologies in the way that a new rail line will. It is the time to act to secure the UK’s future prosperity.

Why do new rails need to be high speed?

New high-speed rail lines usually cost just 10% more than conventional rail lines, but the benefits they bring easily eclipse that extra investment. This is a realisation to which large parts of the rest of the world have already come; Britain lags far behind countries such as Saudi Arabia which has 342 miles of high speed rail under construction, let alone France or Spain. Moreover building a new high speed rail line is an opportunity for Britain to reaffirm its position as a leader in large scale infrastructure, engineering and high speed rail technology.

Why prioritise major national infrastructure projects – such as HS2 – over smaller local ones?

In the past decade, Britain has invested a huge amount of money in regeneration projects in major cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. But because we’ve never connected them together they haven’t realised their full economic potential. HS2 is the project that can tie together the strands to help them realise their full potential. The scale of the ambition is its strength, in one fell swoop connecting 8 out of 10 of Britain’s largest cities, serving 1 in 5 of the UK population.

Should money from HS2 be spent on repairing existing rail lines?

Repairing storm damage and continuing to maintain and enhance the existing railway does not mean removing money from other projects. Network Rail will receive more than £21bn over the next 5 years to fund the network. But we also need the major projects, like mainline electrification, the Northern Hub and HS2, that will deliver the improvements that we need for the future. When operational, HS2 will have the capacity to take 10 million car journeys off the roads, will mean 18 new services travelling north-south every hour, trebling the number of seats into Euston from 11,300 to 34,900 an hour – increasing capacity by 143%. It is also important to note that new high speed lines are built to be extremely resilient to adverse weather, especially when compared to older lines; HS1 has regularly remained open whilst the rest of Kent’s rail network has been in shut down.

Surely technological advance – especially in telecommunications – will mean rail travel growth will stall and we won’t need extra capacity?
Currently, our rail system is facing a crippling capacity crunch. Rail usage has grown dramatically since privatisation two decades ago, recording annual growth rates of more than 5 per cent, with the number of journeys almost doubling to more than 1.2bn. The West Coast Main line – the rail backbone of Britain which links London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and Scotland – will be full in less than a decade if the passenger growth seen over the past decade continues. By 2020, another 400 million rail journeys will be made every year. Upgrading the existing infrastructure is not a viable long-term solution, although on the WCML a full upgrade would bring a 53% capacity increase, long-term the country needs the line to be able to take more. A new high speed rail line is the only long-lasting solution and will mean 18 new services travelling north-south every hour, trebling the number of seats into Euston from 11,300 to 34,900 an hour – increasing capacity by 143%.

HS2 – Workforces and Communities

How will HS2 benefit communities?

HS2 will, both directly and indirectly, bring jobs, skills and connectivity to towns and cities across the UK.

During the construction of the London- Leeds/Manchester HS2 project, it is expected that 89,000 jobs will be created across the UK – 70% of them outside of London. Crucially, the construction phase will bring a lasting skills revolution to the UK. HS2 will be a cutting-edge, world-leading project, conceived and built in Britain. This experience, and the credentials it will bring, will give British companies and workforces the tools to go out and sell innovation and infrastructure to the world.

The Core Cities Group project the creation of a further 400,000 new jobs as a consequence of HS2. In addition, the connectivity that HS2 will foster when in operation will be a major benefit to the UK. 18 of Britain’s cities will be better connected either directly or indirectly by HS2, bringing jobs and regeneration and rebalancing our economy in the process. 100 towns and cities across the country could benefit from new commuter and intercity services on existing lines as a result of HS2. This world-leading connectivity between such large swathes of the population will stimulate ties and cooperation – social and economic – that will rebalance our economy and help distribute growth, jobs and skills more evenly.

What will HS2 mean for skills amongst the British workforce?

HS2 will be the largest infrastructure project in Europe, offering hundreds of companies of all sizes, and their thousands of workers, the chance to be involved in the construction of one of the world’s most technologically advanced railways.

Large projects such as HS2 are a fantastic opportunity to develop new industries and skills as we have seen with the Olympics and as we are beginning to see with Crossrail. They provide the opportunity to develop, test and showcase new technologies and industries as well as to build skills amongst current and future workforces.

How can the UK harness the opportunity High Speed Rail offers?

Government, businesses, communities and educational establishments must work together to ensure the UK makes the most out of high speed rail. Only by combining forces and expertise can we ensure we exploit all the potential benefits from high speed rail  for the long-term prosperity of this country. Lord Deighton and the HS2 Growth Taskforce will play a key role in connecting these parties together, making sure the project leaves a lasting positive legacy for growth, communities and workers.

High-speed Rail Around the World

What impact have high speed rail lines had in other parts of the world?

In Japan, the first high speed rail eased overcrowding and congestion in the Tokyo to Osaka corridor in the 1950s. High speed rail has also been an effective way of connecting regions in large countries like China, where high speed trains connect 100 cities. This provides local manufacturers and businesses with access to a more customers, employees and a wider base of suppliers and facilities spread across the country.

High speed rail has also had an impact in directing investment towards regions across the world providing more jobs and access to people living out of cities. An example of a non capital region that has benefitted is Lille in France which benefitted from being a high speed rail hub station, and secured major advantages in redevelopment terms.

Why is the UK behind the rest of Europe when it comes to high speed rail?

The UK has always been a pioneer when it comes to fast trains, breaking speed records in 1938 with the Mallard. Throughout the early part of the 20th Century, British trains were among the fastest in the world.

Nevertheless, in recent years, the rest of Europe, Japan and China have invested heavily in developing high speed rail as an answer to their infrastructure and transport needs. In the UK, existing networks have been upgraded to cope with increasing demand and our rail infrastructure is still some of the best in the world.

With a growing population and as demand for rail travel continues to increase, now is the time to invest in a high speed rail to create a lasting legacy for future generations. We expect HS2 to be of the best current standard, using modern technology and smart systems to improve the customer experience, and match if not exceed the quality of high speed rail systems elsewhere.

What should the UK be looking to do with high speed rail?

High speed rail will provide better access across the UK, connecting regions and cities to reinvigorate and rebalance the economy. High speed rail will create crucial space on crowded routes whilst releasing room for freight, ensuring an efficient transport system to service a growing economy. High speed rail will improve journey times and experience between cities which will in turn provide a whole range of benefits to the economy encouraging investment to the regions served by the route.

How will HS2 compare to other high speed lines worldwide?

HS2 trains have the potential to run at speeds of up to 250mph – faster than any current operating speed in Europe.

Furthermore, various organisations are involved in re-designing the passenger experience to make HS2 trains and stations more effective, sustainable and with the user in mind including innovative use of HS2 stations, the platforms to make them more passenger friendly and incorporating the use of smart technologies.

HS2 – Jobs and the Economy

How will HS2 benefit businesses?

HS2 has the potential to transform the economic shape of the UK. The construction of HS2 will provide a multitude of opportunities for local businesses and suppliers across the UK. As recently stated by HS2 Ltd, the project has £10 billion worth of supply chain contracts on offer, available for all kinds of businesses. High speed rail will have a major impact on business to business connectivity, most markedly those based in the larger cities, which are increasingly the drivers of the national economy. Furthermore, the better connectivity between regions it will provide can benefit businesses by providing access to a wider range of suppliers, consumers, employees and markets. For example, businesses in Manchester will be able to reach employees, consumers and other businesses in Birmingham more effectively and vice versa.

How many jobs will be created?

The potential for job creation arising from HS2 is significant. Already, HS2 has led to 2,000 new jobs. By the start of phase 1 construction in 2017, 22,000 jobs will have been created. These jobs so far are largely in the design and engineering sectors, and the supply chain that supports them. HS2 will support over 100,000 jobs in the supply chain and in the immediate locality around HS2 stations with an estimated 89,000 jobs in the construction sector to be created Over a slightly larger geographic area, HS2 will underpin 400,000 jobs in the wider cities. 70% of jobs estimated to be created by HS2 will be outside of London. HS2 will benefit from the experience of similar projects, like Crossrail and the Olympics, to ensure that local people along the route are able to benefit. Crossrail ensured, in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, that local people along the route were all informed of training and employment opportunities. Elsewhere, major HSR projects have been used to help the disadvantaged into work – an important wider social benefit that can be derived from large-scale engineering projects. For example, the Rhine-Rhone LGV project ensured that 12% of all jobs were awarded to younger jobseekers, the chronic unemployed and minimum wage earners, whilst training schemes were organised to enable those without qualifications to be employed. The Government has already stated they want to create apprenticeships throughout the UK to work on the HS2 line, and in its supply chain.

What opportunities does high speed rail bring for the UK supply chain?

Building trains for HS2 represents a major commercial opportunity. The significant supply-chain opportunities around rolling stock production suggest that a total of around 180,000 job years would be associated with building trains to run on HS2. HS2 will also harness economic growth through procurement and the supply chain. The construction of HS2 will rely on procuring goods and services from a wide range of companies encouraging growth and innovation in the UK supply chain. With stiff competition to win contracts during the building of HS2, HS2 will stimulate innovation in the UK and help to demonstrate that our goods and services can rival those from anywhere else in the world.

How will HS2 benefit SMEs?

HS2 will create a multitude of opportunities for small and medium sized businesses. First of all, the construction and planning of HS2 provides a lot scope for small and medium sized businesses to benefit from the vast range of contracts to be awarded and showcase their expertise in what will be the railway of the future. Furthermore, once HS2 is built, it will provide more access for small and medium sized businesses that can connect to suppliers, markets, business partners and consumers across major cities in the UK. HS2 will also offer small and medium British businesses the opportunity to develop new experience and expertise in this sector, acting as a springboard for further work overseas. As countries around the world increasingly invest in high speed rail, we will all feel the benefit as more British firms get a slice of this growing industry.

Where will the economic benefits of HS2 be felt?

It is expected that HS2 will generate £48.2 billion in user benefits to businesses when the entire network is completed, as well as £15 billion in wider economic benefits per year. 70% of the economic growth attributed to HS2 is expected in the North and Midlands, thus helping to rebalance the economy. Furthermore, various sectors from manufacturing to the service sector will benefit directly and indirectly from the HS2, the opportunities it provides and the lasting legacy of skills and innovation that a project like this will create.

What will HS2 mean for the engineering industry?

The development of HS2 shows a commitment to the UK’s engineering industry by providing much needed investment into the sector.

With HS2 creating tens of thousands of jobs for the engineering industry, HS2 will bring about growth in the sector encouraging innovation and investing in future skills. HS2 will bring a lasting legacy for the engineering industry creating a new generation of highly skilled engineers, designers, and architects and will put Britain at the forefront when it comes to engineering across the world.

How will HS2 benefit the economy?

Research and analysis have shown that HS2 will have a positive impact on the economy. Research by KPMG showed that HS2 could give a £15 billion annual boost to the economy. This will be through job creation, increase in trade, investment in skills and the supporting of business activity across the UK.

Furthermore, the impact will be fairly distributed with the North and Midlands gaining at least double the benefit of the South.

Which sectors of the economy will benefit in particular?

HS2 has a multitude of benefits to all sectors in the UK directly and indirectly by opening up many economic opportunities to businesses especially those in the supply chain and support/service sectors, engineering and manufacturing, and construction and civil engineering.

What are the economic benefits of linking the north and south of the UK?

There are many benefits to be had from better connections between the north and south of the UK. Increased connectivity between regions will enable businesses to serve markets further afield and be more competitive in markets that they currently serve. For examples, businesses in the South will have better access to suppliers, customers and employee based in the North and vice versa.

Research by KPMG has shown that better connectivity will promote competition and drive up productivity. Furthermore the benefits to the economy will be shared across the various regions encouraging investment in the North and Midlands.

How would increasing rail capacity help rebalance the UK economy?

The UK is facing a transport capacity crunch as demand for rail travel has increased significantly in recent years. Overcrowding is as its peak on our rail and road networks especially at peak times between 8am and 9am.

Increasing rail capacity will free up space for freight transport on the existing network whilst connecting businesses between cities. This allows room for increased trade across regions helping to benefit businesses in the North and Midlands.

A thriving economy is dependent on an efficient transport network. Increasing rail capacity will reduce delays on existing networks and ensure businesses and people are able to operate in a more proficient manner which research has shown can bring significant economic benefits.

The High Speed Rail Industry Leader’s Group

What do you do?

The High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group is using industry expertise to help support the successful delivery of Britain’s national high-speed rail network to world-class standards.

Bringing together expertise in engineering, operations, funding, and regulation, the HSR Industry Leaders Group will:

  • identify supply side constraints, skills or resource shortages through the supply chain
  • benchmark expertise against international experience
  • establish best practice guidelines in relation to issues such as environmental treatment, cost management and operational performance
  • showcase the expertise available and identify skills development avenues.

Who can join?

Any UK based organisation with an interest in high speed rail and the future of Britain’s transport network can join the HSRILG.

Please email deborah.carson@greengauge21.net for more information.