Capacity, Connectivity and Growth: the Strategic Case for UK’s High Speed 2



Capacity, Connectivity and Growth: the Strategic Case for UK’s High Speed 2

Authors

Szilvia Varadi, Department for Transport, Philip Haslam, Department for Transport, Daniel Thomas, Department for Transport

Description

The paper summarizes the analysis of the latest levels of passenger demand and forecast growth in the UK, as well as patterns of business travel which underpinned the publication of the 2015 Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2.

Abstract

High Speed 2 is a proposed High Speed Railway in the UK that will provide faster and more reliable connections between eight of the UK’s 10 biggest cities, including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. The line is currently scheduled for delivery in three phases by 2033. The decision to proceed with HS2 is supported by a 5-part business case in accordance with HM Treasury’s Green Book Guidance, of which the Strategic Case is one key element.

The strategic case sets out why the UK needs HS2. It explains how the new line will strengthen our transport network and our economy. The British government first set out the case for HS2, which rests on the capacity and connectivity it will provide, in a Strategic Case published in 2013. This paper summarizes the further analysis commissioned by DfT of the latest levels of passenger demand and forecast growth, as well as patterns of business travel which underpinned the publication of the 2015 “Supplement to the October 2013 Strategic Case for HS2”.

The findings of the newly published granular analysis of crowding, including looking at AM/PM peaks and individual destinations, confirms that with growth in demand for rail travel in the UK continues to be strong, the case for major investment in the capacity of the West Coast Mainline (WCML) due to increasing lack of spare train paths and the UK’s rail network in general, remains compelling. Dedicated high speed lines will allow for faster, more frequent and more reliable inter-city travel whilst at the same time releasing capacity on the existing network to enable radical improvements to commuter and freight services. Once the HS2 network is complete, released capacity could also “de-pressurise” the WCML and allow performance and reliability to improve.

Whilst providing more capacity and improving reliability are the driving needs for HS2, the benefits that it will bring are much broader. Our new analysis on the structural changes in the UK economy, such as the growing importance of city centre employment and of knowledge-based industries where employees have a relatively high propensity for commuting and business travel by rail, indicate that HS2 is the right transformational transport intervention to boost productivity and the economy in general.
While all regions will benefit from HS2, analysis shows that it brings a proportionately greater transformation in business and labour market connectivity in the North and the Midlands. HS2 could therefore help the North and the Midlands emulate the success of regions elsewhere in Europe such as the Randstad in the Netherlands and the Rhine-Ruhr in Germany where efficient and effective transport systems unite smaller towns and cities into single economic areas. In doing so, HS2 could play a big part in spreading prosperity beyond London and the South East and in meeting the Government’s wider objective of rebalancing the economy.

Publisher

Association for European Transport