Chief warns of disaster for UK if £50bn HS2 isn’t built

The Oxford Times: Sir David Higgins, right Sir David Higgins, right

Controlling HS2 costs and delivering the project quickly are vital for its success, according to the new chairman of the £50bn high-speed rail scheme.

Not going ahead with HS2 would be “disastrous for the whole nation” said HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins yesterday.

Acknowledging the opposition that exists for the project, Sir David said that major new schemes were always challenging as they produced change.

Speaking at Old Oak Common rail depot in north-west London, Sir David, who has been Network Rail chief executive, said it was vital that the UK had a railway fit for the 21st century.

The new high-speed line – which would go through areas of Oxfordshire north-east of Bicester – would deliver the extra capacity vitally needed on a network suffering from “ageing infrastructure”, he said.

Formerly Olympic Delivery Association chief who oversaw the successful 2012 London Games, Australian Sir David appeared undaunted by his new role promoting a line whose first London to Birmingham phase runs through Tory heartlands in the Chilterns and is bitterly opposed by some councils and many residents.

Sir David said: “It’s a great job and HS2 is crucially important for the nation. Not to go ahead with HS2 would be disastrous for the whole country.

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“We have to tell people that it’s going to be delivered quickly and that costs are going to be controlled.

“There was opposition to the Olympics. Major projects are always challenging because they bring change.”

Work on the first phase of HS2 is due to start in 2017 with completion due in 2026. A second phase, taking the line to north-west and north-east England in a Y-shaped route, is expected to be finished by 2032/33.

Sir David said: “We want to bring benefits earlier if possible, especially to the North.

“We don’t want to wait until 2033. This scheme will not only help London, but will also make the north of the country more economically sustainable.”

Plans for a new college to train the next generation of top engineers to work on the construction of HS2 were also announced yesterday.

The scheme will offer the necessary technical training, including rail engineering, environmental skills and construction to make HS2 a success and ensure it can be built by skilled British workers.

It will be the first new incorporated Further Education College in more than 20 years.

It is expected that HS2 will create up to 2,000 apprentices during the lifetime of construction. It is thought the college will open in 2017.

The cost of the entire project is currently £42.6bn, with a further £7.5bn for the high-speed trains.

Comments (5)

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10:00pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Dilligaf2010 says...

Waste of money!
Waste of money! Dilligaf2010

10:45pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

It'll be so good when it opens.

We should stop wasting time "consulting" on national infrastructure projects. Other countries would have it built by now.
It'll be so good when it opens. We should stop wasting time "consulting" on national infrastructure projects. Other countries would have it built by now. Andrew:Oxford

3:41am Wed 15 Jan 14

Myron Blatz says...

Truth is that we don't actually need the thing - it's just another PR stunt like Concorde, to benefit the wealthy, and shareholders in the companies which will build the abomination! The only good thing about HS2 would be that the cost to rail users would be even worse than now! What the UK needs is a cheap-to-use, reliable and well-run integrated public rail network, which puts rail users first, not shareholders! Same goes for bus services, too - bring back bus regulation, and provide cheap, reliable bus services - not milking cows for bus operators!
Truth is that we don't actually need the thing - it's just another PR stunt like Concorde, to benefit the wealthy, and shareholders in the companies which will build the abomination! The only good thing about HS2 would be that the cost to rail users would be even worse than now! What the UK needs is a cheap-to-use, reliable and well-run integrated public rail network, which puts rail users first, not shareholders! Same goes for bus services, too - bring back bus regulation, and provide cheap, reliable bus services - not milking cows for bus operators! Myron Blatz

9:32am Wed 15 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Myron Blatz wrote:
Truth is that we don't actually need the thing - it's just another PR stunt like Concorde, to benefit the wealthy, and shareholders in the companies which will build the abomination! The only good thing about HS2 would be that the cost to rail users would be even worse than now! What the UK needs is a cheap-to-use, reliable and well-run integrated public rail network, which puts rail users first, not shareholders! Same goes for bus services, too - bring back bus regulation, and provide cheap, reliable bus services - not milking cows for bus operators!
Can you imagine how the unelected, unaccountable vexatious "activists" of Oxford would react if it was the route through Oxford that was "enhanced" to accommodate major growth instead of having HS2?

The best way to do it in the city would be to build an "upper deck" above the current line. This would mean that the upper part of the infrastructure eg power gantries would be around 20 metres from ground level.

We know what happened when an apartment block was built on a degraded former brownfield site in the city centre... Just think how they'd react to a 20 metre tall steel and concrete "snake" running along side Port Meadow with trains running at standard heritage speeds of 125mph...
[quote][p][bold]Myron Blatz[/bold] wrote: Truth is that we don't actually need the thing - it's just another PR stunt like Concorde, to benefit the wealthy, and shareholders in the companies which will build the abomination! The only good thing about HS2 would be that the cost to rail users would be even worse than now! What the UK needs is a cheap-to-use, reliable and well-run integrated public rail network, which puts rail users first, not shareholders! Same goes for bus services, too - bring back bus regulation, and provide cheap, reliable bus services - not milking cows for bus operators![/p][/quote]Can you imagine how the unelected, unaccountable vexatious "activists" of Oxford would react if it was the route through Oxford that was "enhanced" to accommodate major growth instead of having HS2? The best way to do it in the city would be to build an "upper deck" above the current line. This would mean that the upper part of the infrastructure eg power gantries would be around 20 metres from ground level. We know what happened when an apartment block was built on a degraded former brownfield site in the city centre... Just think how they'd react to a 20 metre tall steel and concrete "snake" running along side Port Meadow with trains running at standard heritage speeds of 125mph... Andrew:Oxford

12:40pm Thu 16 Jan 14

CupHalfFull says...

I am not a Nimby as the line will pass nowhere near my house. However, I do think that it will be a monstrous waste of money that could be well spent elsewhere. There might be an argument for connecting the northern cities together so that they can compete against London, but I am certain, that cities like Birmingham will be devastated by HS2. Why have costly Bank and Accountancy offices in Birmingham when you can send your teams out from London. Before anyone says - why won't they expand their offices in Birmingham and cut back in London? They won't because they want to be where it all happens. Look at the **** up with the BBC's move to Manchester all the top talent wants to stay in London, and it won't be long before a new DG comes in and reverses the whole process.
I am not a Nimby as the line will pass nowhere near my house. However, I do think that it will be a monstrous waste of money that could be well spent elsewhere. There might be an argument for connecting the northern cities together so that they can compete against London, but I am certain, that cities like Birmingham will be devastated by HS2. Why have costly Bank and Accountancy offices in Birmingham when you can send your teams out from London. Before anyone says - why won't they expand their offices in Birmingham and cut back in London? They won't because they want to be where it all happens. Look at the **** up with the BBC's move to Manchester all the top talent wants to stay in London, and it won't be long before a new DG comes in and reverses the whole process. CupHalfFull

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