HS2 - Local & National News

Compiled with the aid of Andrea Polden's daily HS2 News digest

For National HS2 news, visit the Stop HS2 News pages,
the Google HS2 news feed,
& the Stop HS2 "TV station" on YouTube


(Deadline for) Time to Take Legal Action Against HS2 - Chris Packham

With your help, my lawyers at Leigh Day will be writing to the Transport Secretary, to the Prime Minister and to HS2 Ltd calling on them to end this destruction now. If they refuse to do so, then I will take the serious but necessary step of challenging them in court - and for an injunction to stop the continued destruction immediately.
There are lots of ways you can help us stop the environmental damage happening because of HS2.
First off, please consider donating to fund the legal challenge! Together we can win this. Thanks to the brilliant “Aarhus Convention”, I can do this for a reasonable cost. But I need your help to raise the legal funds.


Stephenson's Rocket

The music stopped, & Andrew was left holding the parcel (BBC news) The new 'Minister for HS2' represents Pendle, Lancashire (up M6, turn R at Preston). He has consistently voted for HS2, but also campaigns to improve transport in Pendle, so maybe a glimmer of hope ?


 Grant Shapps dismisses idea China could be called in to build HS2

Grant Shapps today dismissed claims China could help build HS2 - swiping that Beijing does not need to worry about laws or property rights.
The Transport Secretary tried to quash the idea saying the government has had no talks with the Chinese about taking a role in the massive scheme. (Daily Mail, Stop HS2 )


Euston Approaches

Prime Minister's Statement, & the Oakervee Review -

Also in section 9, Oakervee Review indicates that the aim now will be to redevelop Euston station as whole:
" This new policy for Euston, if combined with the ‘in-depth study’ mentioned by Oakervee at 9.20, and the redesign of this part of the project which is likely to follow, will evidently put back the start of construction by a further extended period, almost certainly several years. . " (Also - Ham and High )


Johnson backs HS2

When it comes to advocating HS2, it must be said that the task is not made easier by HS2 Ltd, the company concerned. Speaking as a Member of Parliament whose constituency is on the route, I cannot say that HS2 Ltd has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities. As everybody knows, the cost forecasts have exploded, but poor management to date has not detracted from the fundamental value of the project. The review recently conducted by Douglas Oakervee, copies of which will be placed in the Library of the House, leaves no doubt of the clinching case for high-speed rail: a vast increase in capacity, with hundreds of thousands of extra seats, making it much easier for travellers to move up and down our long, narrow country. That means faster journey times. It means not just more capacity, but faster journey times—extraordinarily fast journey times.

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority considers that the first phase can be delivered for its current projected cost of £35 billion to £45 billion in today’s prices. The designs have been improved immeasurably thanks to the tireless contributions of campaigners, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan), who I do not think is in her place. (Hansard)

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan), who is recovering from a major operation, has asked me to thank the volunteers and donors from all over the nation who have fought against HS2 over the past 11 years. The last three years have given us a few lessons in what gracious defeat looks like, and although I remain worried by the environmental, financial and governance issues of the project, I really do wish it all the best. I was particularly pleased to hear what the Prime Minister said about the northern section and the speed by which he intends to deliver it, and about buses and bikes. I have one ask, on taking a holistic approach to blight; if it is impossible to regrow ancient trees or to get rid of congestion where it exists, can we please compensate communities by, for example, building their local hospital? (Column 719)

Andrew Bridgen

HS2 is unloved and unwanted, and has been grossly mismanaged. It very adversely affects my constituents. Does the Prime Minister appreciate my and my constituents’ concerns that this could well be an albatross around this Government’s and the country’s neck, and does it not set the bar very low for the delivery of infrastructure projects on time and on budget by all future Governments? (Column 722)

>> Reactions


Boris Johnson is set to give HS2 the green light 

The Prime Minister is set to give controversial rail link HS2 the go-ahead this week, it has been reported - despite fears over spiraling costs and news that trains will only be able to travel at their 255mph top speed for half of the route.

Dame Cheryl Gillan, a former Tory Cabinet minister and a keen opponent of HS2, told The Sunday Telegraph: 'One of the justifications was speed and what is now painfully obvious, to keep the costs down both in what they construct and in what they are doing, the speed is going to have to come right down.
'The very raison d'être behind the original justification for the project has gone.' Daily Mail

Boris Johnson to give HS2 green light despite Tory fears

A No 10 source said: “The PM understands the responsibility he has to deliver for everyone who put their trust in the Conservatives in the election. That means transforming the transport and infrastructure links in local areas, particularly in the north. For some this will mean big, ambitious projects – but he has been struck also, by the small changes that will make an even bigger difference to the everyday lives of people across the country – be they roads, rail or other projects.” (Grauniad)


The real reason I am against HS2

Rory Sutherland, Spectator

Use Beeching lines to backtrack on doomed railway

There are two great advantages to discontinued branch lines when the question of their ­restoration is considered. For one, land needed for them has already been acquired and belongs to the nation. Land purchase along with the devastation of great swathes of some of our most beautiful countryside, is a huge negative for HS2. 
Frederick Forsyth, Express


HS2: the need for speed

Yes, it’s been terribly mismanaged. But we still need high-speed rail.
Last Friday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson called the managers of Britain’s second high-speed rail link, HS2, ‘profligate’ and ‘hopeless’. He was right. Yet he is still likely to go ahead with HS2 – spending, perhaps, more than £100 billion on it. And he’d be right to do that, too. (Spiked-online)

Capacity, cost and CO2 – the HS2 arguments roll on;
Will HS2 really benefit the north?
Misinformation abounds in The Guardian’s coverage of HS2

As previously mentioned, the Guardian has this week ‘attempted to capture the key issues’ about High Speed Two in an error-prone series of articles, called ‘HS2: who’s right?‘.
In this blogpost, the focus is on some claims from Patrick Barkham’s article of 2 February, and the Editorial of 5 February. (Beleben)

Apology after families not told relatives would be reburied during HS2 work

A representative for the Church Commissioners has apologised after individuals were not told that their relatives were to be reburied due to HS2 construction work.
Second Church Estates Commissioner Andrew Selous said he was "extremely sorry" that a woman had found out about the exhumation of her great-great-grandfather by accident. (Birmingham Mail)


Lord Berkeley addresses government in letter to Grant Shapps over HS2

One of the most prominent dissenting voices on the project, Lord Berkeley, addressed a letter (dated February 4, 2020) to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, outlining the improvements which could be made to existing rail network and train services should HS2 not be built.
Copies of the correspondence were sent to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
, StopHS2)

HS2 decision is delayed: the Government is warned the full cost could reach £150 BILLION

Today the TaxPayers Alliance reiterated its opinion that it is too expensive and should be abandoned.
The estimated worst-case cost of HS2 is currently estimated at £106billion, but the TPA suggested it could eventually reach £150billion.
In a letter to Boris Johnson it urged a rethink, writing that 'given the undoubtedly rising costs, it is prudent to consider the deliverability of the project'. (Daily Mail)

HS2 is the only major project [with] seven amber/red warnings in a row since 2013 from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. (Mix96)

Oxford-Cambridge rail scheme’s “net gain” commitment shows HS2 failing nature, says RSPB

RSPB Operations Director Jeff Knott said: “Given the very negative response of HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport to the numerous concerns that have been raised about the scheme’s impacts on wildlife, it is something of a revelation that another national rail scheme [East-West Rail] right next door is making such positive noises about its intent towards nature.
“Everything we understand about HS2’s likely environmental impacts points to the high price it will exact from nature. Given the enormous challenges we are facing with the loss of wildlife and habitats, climate change and the threat to ecosystems, it’s not a price we should even be considering making nature pay.” (Envirotec)

HS2 company branded 'chronically inefficient and institutionally callous'

Conservative MP Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam) took aim at HS2 Limited over their handling of the project, which has been delayed.
The former culture secretary said that those affected by the construction of the high-speed line, which aims to link London to the Midlands and the North, must be treated "fairly and with decency".
"People whose homes, businesses and farmland will be demolished, diminished or devalued by HS2 have a right to be treated fairly and with decency.
"In the decade of this project's development, and in my experience as a constituency member of Parliament, they too often have not been. (Birmingham Mail)


HS2 must prove that their 'Euston Approaches' design is not dangerous

The Court Order following on from my successful Judicial Review permission hearing on 16 January has now been issued: HS2 Ltd must produce the evidence in support of their position (that their Three Tunnels design is not dangerous) by 17 February. This evidence should include the drawings and other documents which we had been repeatedly requesting from July 2018.(CrowdJustice)

Wildlife Trusts Petition

Today a letter from The Wildlife Trusts, signed by over 66,000 people will be delivered to 10 Downing Street highlighting the huge risks that HS2 poses to the environment, and asking the Prime Minister to ensure that the impact on nature is properly assessed as a matter of urgency.( & The Ecologist)

HS2 handed £500m demand after incorrectly reclaiming VAT

The tax authority ruled that HS2 Limited should not have reclaimed £569.1 million incurred on design and construction between 2014 and 2019.
A spokeswoman for HS2 Ltd confirmed that the money had been returned after the three-year investigation by HMRC concluded in June (Business Matters)
£5m/week wont even buy you a decent accountant thewse days ?

Can the cost of HS2 be Justified ?

Every escalation in costs has dented the economic case for HS2 – £106bn equates to an astonishing £307m per mile to build 345 miles of high-speed track. (Grauniad)

HS2's northern critics: 'We don't need it but we'll be paying for it'

In the north of England, the arguments over whether to push on with the HS2 project are as polarised as they are in Westminster. (Grauniad)



HS2 Millstone

BORIS JOHNSON has be warned his decision on the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project could define his tenure as Prime Minister.
Ahead of the announcement, campaign manager for the StopHS2 group, Joe Rukin warned if the Prime Minister pushes forward with the project, it will be the “millstone around his neck”.
He told Express.co.uk: “For the next 10-15 years, whenever a school closes or when there aren’t enough police, someone will say you gave away money for HS2.

In a further blow to the project, in a National Audit Office (NOA) review published on January 24, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) claimed “the delivery of the programme appears to be unachievable”.
Under the criteria set out by the IPA, an “unachievable” project would be placed under the red rating - the worst which can be given.( Express)

Sir Bill Cash hits out at pro-HS2 Tories

The Stone MP said that by supporting the controversial line, the likes of West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Chancellor Sajid Javid had tied themselves to an "unjustified white elephant", while disregarding the strong case for improving local train services in areas such as the West Midlands.
He also warned that the final cost of HS2 would soar past the current estimate of £106bn – a figure which is already triple its original budget. (Express and Star)


Bad Press for HS2

So much of it - here are a few items -

  • HS2 should be “binned”, critics have claimed,
    with ITV’s political editor Robert Peston suggesting the estimated overall cost of £106 billion exceeded the total funds available for infrastructure in the lifetime of the current Parliament (Express)
  • HS2 costs could rise to £106bn or more
    The review, which was leaked to the Financial Times, also called for work on the second phase of the link – from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds – to be put on hold for six months (Grauniad)
  • Hopelessly out of date and ruinously expensive
    for a great many Conservatives the biggest target of all will be HS2, which is easily the most expensive project in Government. And one that, most believe, is already dead in the water. (Telegraph)
  • Andrew Gilligan urges Boris Johnson to axe HS2 in the South
    Transport adviser Andrew Gilligan has been lobbying the party’s newly elected MPs to support the cancellation of the phase one  Birmingham to London  leg of the controversial high-speed rail route.
    (Daily Mail)
  • Realistic [project] delivery timelines are needed
    The commitment to infrastructure is welcome, but we must set realistic delivery timelines and avoid, where possible, the delays we are encountering on Crossrail and HS2. (New Civil Engineer)
  • Time to slaughter the HS2 white elephant
    Big, expensive projects are being sized up – and the London-to-Birmingham super-train could well be for the chop.(Telegraph)
  • HS2’s financial case gets weaker and weaker – but has its political justification held up any better?
    (Lord Berkley) argues, not unreasonably, that the original budget was so unreasonable as to amount to deliberately misleading Parliament in order to secure consent for the project. (Conservative Home)


In a Hole ? Keep digging ! (?)

Boris Johnson has said the Government must “keep digging” on HS2, in an indication he could be about to give the controversial rail project the go-ahead. ( Press association )

The PM seemed to confirm the go-ahead for the controversial £100billion project in an interview with a 10-year-old on Sky News. (Express)

Nigel Farage lashes out at Boris Johnson

Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was reported to have thrown his support behind high-speed railway HS2. ...  Nigel Farage slammed Boris Johnson over this and accused the Prime Minister of being a “continuation of everything we saw under David Cameron and Theresa May”. Express



New Chair of Transport Select Committee

Mr Merriman has consistently voted in support of HS2 and consistently voted against a publicly-owned railway system - something which may place him at odds with the prevailing public mood and the apparent failure of various rail franchises.
He voted against a proposal to even allow, but not require, High Speed 2 passenger services to be run by the public sector operators. (Transport Network)

Cost of HS2 up by 85% - National Audit Office

UK’s public spending watchdog National Audit Office has revealed that the cost of the main civil engineering works on the first phase of HS2 has increased by 85%, or almost GBP 5 billion. They said that costs for the 140-mile section of the route between London and Birmingham had risen from GBP 5.8 billion in April 2017 to GBP 10.7 billion by October 2019. In its report, High Speed Two: A Progress Update, the NAO said: “The High Speed Two railway is over budget and behind schedule because the Department for Transport (DfT), HS2 and wider government have underestimated its complexity and risk.” ( SteelGuru )


Old Oak Common Cock-Up

Car Giant stay put (Standard)

HS2 decision tomorrow (Bucks Free Press), 'very shortly' (Rail Advent)

Johnson orders Emergency Summit (Politics Home), Chancellor backs project (BBC)

The chancellor is expected to tell the PM he supports the controversial London to Birmingham rail link after studying Treasury analysis of its impact,


Join the Fight against HS2 - Chris Packham

With your help, my lawyers at Leigh Day will be writing to the Transport Secretary, to the Prime Minister and to HS2 Ltd calling on them to end this destruction now. If they refuse to do so, then I will take the serious but necessary step of challenging them in court - and for an injunction to stop the continued destruction immediately.

Alternatives to HS2

A list of potential improvements to mainline rail services as an alternative to HS2 has been unveiled by the deputy chairman of a Government-commissioned review into the high-speed railway. (Press Assoc/Belfast Telegraph, Daily Telegraph )


High Speed 2: A progress update

Today’s report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the High Speed Two railway is over budget and behind schedule because the Department for Transport (DfT), HS2 Ltd and wider government have underestimated its complexity and risk. Significant challenges to completing the programme and delivering value for taxpayers and passengers remain.

DfT’s latest estimate of the cost of HS2 is between £65 billion and £88 billion (2015 prices), between 17% and 58% over available funding. The programme is still at an early stage, and costs are uncertain and could change. Full services on the entire network are now forecast to start between 2036 and 2040, between three and seven years later than originally planned.

(But otherwise OK then ?? )

Press reaction

More good news coverage for HS2 -

  • Scrap HS2 and spend the money on potholes! - Daily Mail
  • HS2 is billions over budget -
    Dame Cheryl Gillan continues to voice her objections to HS2 as the National Audit Office published their report on the project today stating that it's 'over budget and behind schedule'... how many critical reports into HS2 do we need before we decide to cancel the entire project? (Bucks Free Press)
  • HS2 risks misjudged from the start
    the NAO said that the DfT and HS2 Ltd "have not adequately managed risks to taxpayer money"... "Significant challenges to completing the programme and delivering value for taxpayers and shareholders remain," the NAO report said. (BBC !!)
    This is a slap on the wrist for HS2 Ltd (Tom 'we need to get to Salford' Burridge)
  • New fears over where HS2 is going -
    The UK is building a railway which is heading to fantasy land - and the taxpayer is funding the journey. (ITV)
  • The final cost of the already over budget HS2 project is 'impossible to estimate' (LBC)
  • HS2 is 'Out of Control'
    Aylesbury MP Rob Butler said: "This report from the NAO confirms what we feared. HS2 is out of control, even before the first track has been laid. (Mix 96)
  • HS2 is becoming increasingly difficult to justify - Spectator
  • Johnson’s HS2 bind - Christian Wolmar
  • The Lib Dems must abandon their support for HS2
    our party must abandon the financially wanton and environmentally destructive vanity project we know as High Speed 2. (Lib Dem Voice... 'Et Tu ??'
  • The Department for Transport (DfT) has “not adequately managed risks to taxpayer money” on HS2, according to a report by the National Audit Office (New Statesman)


Protestors reclaim Harvil Road camp

Climate activists have reclaimed a high speed rail (HS2) protest camp site in west London, a week after bailiffs kicked them out. Thirty people retook the camp on Saturday at the Harvil Road site, in the London borough of Hillingdon, while hundreds joined Extinction Rebellion (XR)’s “day of action.” (Morning Star, The Canary)


Euston Approaches

Resident wins right to bring legal case against HS2 Ltd for tunnel design under Euston which poses ‘catastrophic’ threat to lives and property (more, and previous ); Ham & High

Protesters camp in Trees

Today's clash comes a week after a nearby campaign site (Harvil Road) in a field in Uxbridge was closed down by bailiffs... After the field camp was shut down some protesters moved into the forest, but say the nearby pathway was blocked off by HS2 bailiffs and they were in effect fenced in. (Sky News & Video )


Ask for HS2 to be stopped

A letter to the Prime Minister from the Wildlife Trusts

"Our new report shows HS2 will destroy or significantly impact 108 irreplaceable ancient woodlands, which have been around since the 1600s, 33 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 693 Local Wildlife Sites and 21 Local Nature Reserves, among other precious habitats."

Sign the Letter here; while signing, you are invited to add your own comments, which will presumably end up in an appendix, somewhere or other. The Chilterns is the only AONB on the route, a fact which seems to have been overlooked by the authors of the letter, so there are several points which could be made -

  • There are no 'Green' (i.e. wide ) bridges specified for the above ground section of the line, between South Heath and Wendover, to allow wildlife to cross the line.
  • The line poses a threat to the aquifer under the Chilterns, and so to the chalk streams, an internationally rare environment
  • So called 'preliminary' works have already resulted in considerable destruction of hedgerows, and a major road to the tunnel portal above Great Missenden.

Press Coverage - Stop HS2, Grauniad, BBC, The Ecologist, Parliamentary Review, Bucks Free Press, Daily Mail, The Ecologist

Woods under Threat (Woodland Trust )

Petition on Change.org

By Matthew Bishop - We want the Government to halt HS2 works. Hold a proper independent inquiry


HS2 'too expensive' say London businesses

  • Most business leaders in London believe the HS2 high-speed rail project costs too much and will cause too much disruption while being built, a study suggests. (The Ecologist)
  • HS2 'too costly and too disruptive' say London's business leaders (Telegraph)
  • Almost three-quarters, 74 per cent, of London businesses think the controversial HS2 rail line has become too expensive
    ...Majority concern about its necessity, costs and disruption, leave a clear challenge for the promoters of the project to effectively convey that the project is worth its mounting cost. (City AM)

HS2 protest groups meet in Wendover

After we reported on the camp in Wendover, Anti-HS2 SOC members ... went along to show solidarity with their fellow protesters (Bucks Herald)

Aylesbury's MP (Rob Butler) continues to fight against HS2

Following my conversation with Chancellor Sajid Javid today, I've sent him this letter questioning whether the Oakervee review has really carried out a thorough, independent check on HS2 & asking for proof of the economic & business case (Mix96)


Habitat destroyed at Calvert Jubilee

HS2, the controversial high-speed rail scheme, cleared habitat from its Calvert Jubilee nature reserve without receiving permission. (BirdGuides,


Evictions at Harvil Road

Today, HS2 Ltd decided to evict the Harvil Road HS2 protection camp in Harefield, despite the fact that protestors had legal occupation of the land under the Criminal Law Act 1977 (Stop HS2)

The protesters are opposing the eviction and claim HS2 and the bailiffs are acting unlawfully as they have not served the demonstrators with high court eviction notices ordering them to vacate the land. (Grauniad)


The Berkley Review

Lord Berkley releases his report on the project - see our Review Page


Wendover Active Resistance

A new camp has been established outside Wendover, off the A413 (StopHS2, Facebook, Bucks Herald, ITV news )

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