Key facts about a proposed national high speed network

Posted on by Richard Davies

High speed rail

A Y-shaped national high speed would link London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, and include stops in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. It would connect to the UK’s major international gateways such as HS1 line to the Channel Tunnel and Heathrow Airport. It would cost £32 billion to construct, and generate benefits of around £44 billion, with revenues totaling a further £27 billion

Frequently asked questions: Regularly updated questions and answers on high speed rail.

Timeline: May 2010 – 28 February 2011, consultation launch

The Coalition Government confirmed its commitment to a national high speed rail network. The following timeline – including all relevant documentation – sets what has happened since then up to the launch of the consultation.

February 2011

The Transport Secretary launches the high speed rail consultation which runs until 29 July 2011.

Factsheet providing more information out what happens once the consultation concludes.

December 2010

The Government publishes its preferred route for a London to West Midlands route which are to form the basis for the public consultation. Confirmation of link from London to the West Midlands, Manchester and Leeds as well as Heathrow and HS1. It also asks HS2 Ltd to develop route proposals for a direct link to Heathrow.

The following supplementary reports are also published by HS2 providing further advice on potential refinements to the proposed route.

In total, around 50 per cent of the preferred route has been amended in some respect. In addition, to the reports above HS2 Ltd also publishes a set of detailed technical reports covering:

September/October 2010

The Secretary of State for Transport visits sites along the proposed London to West Midlands route and commissions additional work for improving the proposed alignment.

HS2 Ltd publishes its high level assessment of the two options for a national high speed rail network. It concludes that a “Y”-shaped network would deliver substantially higher benefits than the alternative – the “reverse S”.

The Government announces its favoured network option for taking high speed rail north of Birmingham and gives HS2 Ltd the go ahead to recommence work on developing route proposals for the Y-shaped network and report by the end of 2011.

HS2 Ltd publishes its report on options for reducing the environmental impact of their recommended route north of the Chilterns. Maps showing the refined route.

July 2010

Government introduces an Exceptional Hardship Scheme – providing assistance for those most severely and immediately affected by the preferred route option for a new line between London and the West Midland. Find out more about the Exceptional Hardship scheme.

Lord Mawhinney makes recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport about access to Heathrow Airport by rail.

June 2010

Government asks HS2 Ltd to undertake additional work on connections to Heathrow

May 2010

Lord Mawhinney is asked by the Government to continue its review of Heathrow Airport High Speed Rail Access in the context of Government policy which does not include a third runway at Heathrow.


The previous Government issued a command paper on high speed rail in March 2010 as well as the following supplementary documents which are listed below:

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