THE strongest hint yet that the controversial link through Camden to HS1 is to be dropped from the first phase of High Speed Two was given today as industry leaders warned that failing to build HS2 will leave a clogged Britain, unable to meet its full potential and lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of infrastructure development.

There would be a stagnating effect on Britain’s economy if HS2 does not go ahead, with key regions becoming increasingly disconnected as congestion clogs the overloaded national transport system, according the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group – comprising Alstom, Atkins Global, Bechtel, Greengauge 21, Hitachi, Keolis, Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Railway Industry Association and Siemens Rail.

Their new report ‘Great Britain: connected or not?’ says only a small fraction of the funding allocated to HS2 is likely to be allocated to other transport and infrastructure projects if the scheme is killed off.

“On balance, our expert view is that a large part of the £40 billon budget would not be reallocated to other capital programmes, but used to write down Government debt. This is because the debt write-down is a continuing priority and because there are few capital projects available to Government that can generate the scale and distribution of benefits that HS2 is forecast to provide.”

It adds: “The most likely estimate is that just £2bn of the £42bn allocated to HS2 will be made available to the Department of Transport. Based on current [transport] spending patterns, only £0.67bn of this would potentially be reallocated to national rail,” the report claims.

The report points out that the Department for Transport is now the biggest infrastructure spender of all government departments and there are no other major transport infrastructure projects waiting to be progressed – because none offers an economic return like HS2, plus its potential to raise £8 billion in 2026 and another £8 billion in 2033 when concessions similar HS1’s are let.

It states: “Past experience suggests cancellation now would most likely lead to the same project being revived – and built at greater cost later on. Crossrail (rejected 1994) and the Third London Airport (halted 1976) prove the point.”

The industry leaders report has been published ahead of the review by David Higgins, the new chairman of HS2 Ltd, whch was requested by David Cameron. The Higgins review is expected to be published on 17 March.

Asked by journalists if the report will put impetus back into the project, Leaders Group founder Jim Steer, of Greengauge 21, said: “Yes – he (David Higgins) is a deliverer of major projects and inspires confidence.”

But asked about rumours that the link between HS2 and HS1 across Camden Town would be dropped, Jim Steer said: “I think it has been well trailed that it will not progress as part of phase one.”

Another leading member of the Industry Leaders Group, Steve Scrimshaw –  ‎Managing Director, Rail Systems UK, at Siemens – said HS2 trains would be the most advanced in the word, serving stations that would revolutionize the passenger experience, and there would be a step change in reliability and resilience.

“Compare the performance on HS1 during the recent bad weather and that of the domestic network in Kent,” he said.

All Change on HS2?



  1. In one sense, I’m disappointed that the link with HS1 has been shelved, meaning that Europe-bound travellers now have to drag their luggage from Euston to St Pancras.

    But as it was a poorly-thought-out “link” anyway, I’m hoping that common sense will eventually prevail and a proper rail link established to allow trains to take people from the North and Midlands all the way to the Continent without having to change.

  2. Watch my lips We Cant Afford it! we are trillions in debt(40bn alone since 2010) and do you seriously expect all the vested interests to say anything different?
    this is a vanity project thinking we can have a High Speed Railway like France,Germany etc only only one thing wrong England’s half the size of these two countries!.

  3. The proposed link based upon using The North London Line was indeed dropped given it was planned long before the NLL became part of the highly successful Overground network and all it provided was a single track link meaning the £700 million mentioned as its cost would soon seem to have been a waste of money.

    We now have a clean sheet to work from and in the Greengauge21 group has already suggested a plan to extend HS1 across London to provide a direct link to Heathrow Airport to allow Heathrow to Paris services and a link to erm,.Chiltern Railway to allow extension of javelin services across London together with opening of Stratford International to Eurostar services.

  4. Has any thought be given to integrating the HS1 HS2 link into the airports debate?
    What if the link went from HS2 via Heathrow and Gatwick to join HS1 in Kent?

    This would give 10 minute journey time shuttle trains join the Gatwick terminals to Heathrow’s and add direct trains from north of England or near continent direct to both airports to reduce short haul take-offs and landings.

    Even more relevant if Gatwick gets the extra London runway.

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