Last month, the refinements for the second phase of the £55.7bn HS2 project were confirmed. The second phase comprises of lines to Manchester via Crewe and also to Leeds via the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. However, this comes with controversy due to a decision to take phase 2 east of Sheffield, which will result in the demolition of a recently-built housing estate.
The final route for the second phase has now been confirmed, provoking a negative public reaction.
HS2’s proposed route through Sheffield and the surrounding area was particularly contentious. The first plans were for a specific HS2 parkway station close to Meadowhall retail complex. Due to a severe backlash from city councillors, the decision has now been taken to move the main north-south alignment around 70km to the east, connecting HS2 trains into Sheffield city centre providing a saving of around £1billion.
The HS2 route continues to create controversy throughout Yorkshire with the Department for Transport stating that 16 properties, in the Shimmer Housing estate in Mexborough, need to be demolished to make way for the train line. However, the government have said it will ensure homeowners on the estate can secure ‘a comparable local home’.
A few more changes
Other confirmations included changing the alignment over a 26km length of the route in the Middlewich-Northwich area of Cheshire, as well as the route near the East Midlands Airport.
In relation to the Middlewich-Northwich route, questions were raised as the line will pass through the Cheshire salt caverns. There is a fear that the complex ground conditions could increase the construction cost of a new viaduct. As for the route near East Midlands Airport, the rail link will now follow the eastern side of the A42 more closely to the west of Kegworth in a 12m deep cutting. This will now avoid a tunnel under the airport, which was initially considered too risky.
HS2 Phase 2 Timeline
The design development and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will now begin with the consultation on working draft EIA, EqIA and potential Route Refinements coming next year. Then in 2019, there will be the Phase 2b Hybrid Bill deposit followed by the Royal Assent in 2022. Finally, in 2023 construction will begin with operations scheduled to commence in 2033.