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

Local news ( from the Bucks Examiner ) here .. with luck


Questions Roundup

Consultancy Expenses (Tulip Siddiq)
... how much money his Department has spent on each (a) consultant and (b) consultancy firm to support the HS2project in each year since 2010-11. (Around £52m)
Cost Estimate, again (Lord West & others)
We will publish updated cost and schedule estimates for phase 1 as part of the full business case in 2019. (Lord Young)
what recent estimate his Department has made of the cost to the public purse of HS2 (Jim Cunningham)
We are determined to deliver HS2 within its total Funding Envelope of £55.7bn and have set HS2 Ltd cost targets which would deliver the programme below this amount.(NG)
What the planned timeframe is for the commencement of HS2 services to Sheffield (Clive Betts)
HS2 services will commence in 2033. (Yeah, right ... Nusrat Ghani)
what the planned timeframe is for completion of the northern link for services from Sheffield to the main HS2 line (Clive Betts)
The northern link ... is being considered as part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail project
whether he has plans for a new direct high speed rail link between Liverpool and HS2; (Louise Ellman)
Improvements to rail connectivity between Liverpool and Manchester are being considered as part of the Northern Powerhouse Rail project
what assessment he has made of the potential economic effect of the proposed works between Long Eatonand Nuthall. (Anna Soubry)
Socio-economic impacts of HS2 are set out in the Phase 2b Working Draft Environmental Statement ... proximity to the East Midlands HS2 station ... will provide significant employment opportunities for people in Long Eaton and Nuthall. (NG)
whether the HS2 rail project remains on (1) time, and (2) budget. (Lord Truscott)
 We are determined to deliver HS2 within that [envelope] and HS2 Ltd has been set an ambitious target of commencing HS2 Phase One services in 2026. (Baroness Sugg)


Kier investors shun efforts to raise £264m

Investors in the construction group Kier have shunned a £264m fundraising effort designed to prevent the firm from becoming the next Carillion, with just 38% of the new shares taken up.

Kier took on Carillion’s share of HS2 after its former partner in the £56bn project went bust, saddling taxpayers with £150m of costs in a high-profile collapse


HS2 - Going Off the Rails ?

Panorama looks into the HS2 land aquisition overspend; see Stop HS2 for background information.

HS2: MPs had 'enormously wrong' cost estimate; Cost of HS2 'vastly underestimated'

Former HS2 Ltd head of property Doug Thornton claims that MPs approved plans which underestimated the value of necessary property acquisition by “hundreds of millions”, in an interview with BBC’s Panorama. (New Civil Engineer)

"To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that estimates of land and property costs for HS2 given to the House of Commons were wrong; and what estimate they have made of the actual costs." (Lord Alton)

The HS2 land and property budget has evolved as the programme has developed. The Government welcomed the National Audit Office (NAO) report in September 2018 into the HS2 Phase One property acquisition programme.

The report found that the property cost estimate had increased significantly from 2012 to 2017 and set out that this kind of change was to be expected on a large complex project such as HS2. The NAO noted that the increase included route changes as a result of public consultation, in response to the requests of petitioners during the parliamentary process leading up to Royal Assent and the introduction of additional property compensation schemes. (Baroness Sugg)


Terry Morgan faces Sack

After his resounding success with Crossrail, "it is thought that both Grayling and the chancellor, Philip Hammond, had declared they had no confidence in Morgan’s leadership" (Grauniad)

HS2 reports to stay Secret

TWO reports which examine the options for digging a tunnel for HS2 in the Wendover area of Buckinghamshire instead of a viaduct are to be kept under wraps - Railnews

Evidence to the management of major projects inquiry

By Andrew Cordiner, Hyde Heath. An excellent account of where HS2 went wrong.

Planning Forum (July 2018)

but hey, whats the rush ? Discussion of Common Design Elements, which will so enhance the AONB


Questions Roundup -

How Much (again... Cheryl Gillan)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish the costs of Phase 1of High Speed Two at today's prices. You must be joking ...
(Revised) Business case (Cheryl Gillan)
will he publish the revised business case for Phase 1 of HS2 in the event that any of the Phase 2 lines are not built ? as above
Bucks Unitary Authority (Guess who...)
what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities in Buckinghamshire are able to manage the planning process... during the transition of those authorities to a single unitary council.
HS2 board - salary, hours worked (Cheryl Gillan)
Non-Executive Board members are required to work an average of two days per calendar month ... and receive a fee of £950 per day.
Wendover Tunnel report (Lord Berkley)
These reports are internal to the DfT ... see also, Railnews
On Time ? ( Lord Taylor)
what assessment they have made of the likelihood of the HS2 rail line being delayed by more than one year
How much more ? (Lord Macpherson)
 what is their current estimate of the combined cost of phases 1 and 2 of High Speed 2; and what was the estimated cost in 2010 


No More Money !

The chief executive listed four areas where HS2 and contractors were looking to reduce costs: by reviewing technical specifications and standards; “streamlining” organisation between contractors; investigating ground condition works; and rethinking which stakeholders manage risk.

Work was being done to develop a “better understanding” of the geology and ground conditions along the phase one route, which he said was driving “a lot of the costs”.


PR spend (FOI)

HS2 spend £1.7m on PR, lobbying & marketing


Bridges & Cuttings in the AONB

The presentations made at the CDC-HS2 meeting on 29th October have been published. Here are the preliminary designs for the AONB bridges.


Questions Roundup -

Barn Owls (Cheryl Gillan)
The impact of HS2 on barn owls was assessed to inform the Phase One Environmental Statement which recorded a nationally significant adverse effect on the UK’s barn owl population.
How Much ? (Roger Godsiff)
At the 2015 Spending Review (SR15), the Government restated the long-term Funding Envelope for delivery of the full HS2 scheme of £55.73bn (2015 prices)...
Safety Standards (Lord Berkeley) -
what  standards are being used  to determine the design and layout of rolling stock, tunnels and cross passages, the procedures for evacuation of passengers, 
HS2s design complies with the EU Technical Specifications for Interoperability ...


FOI Requests re the Misbourne Aquifer

We are grateful to Graeme Amis for submitting several FOI requests regarding the Misbourne aquifer -


"Please provide minutes of any water liaison meetings regarding the Chiltern aquifer."

This produced a response, and 16 sets of highly redacted minutes (from October 2016 to September 2018) . You can conveniently download these as 2 zip files (2016-17, 2018 ) & save yourself some trouble.

On page 3 of 161018 minutes redacted, they have redacted the locations of the 5 vent shafts - on grounds of public safety - Reg 12(5)(a) -

"It is believed that release of this information could compromise the security of these sites. Disclosure would mean placing significant security related information into the public domain which could be used to interfere with, disrupt or attack the water supply infrastructure."

Better start redacting the Environmental Statements then ?

Interesting that the start date for Chalfont St Peter was September 2018; just as well they are still on time and under budget.

Variable Density TBMs - see Jan 2018 minutes for overview of operation

Water for Drinking - discussion of regulations - Sep 2018


"Under EIRs, please provide any risk assessments that relate to the Chiltern Aquifer."

These are witheld on grounds of national security, and material still in the course of completion. (Response, Annex). They might reveal the route of the tunnel ??


CDC meeting with HS2

The presentations are now available here -
Fusion, Align-EK, AONB review group, HS2


HS2 announce plans for cycleway ..

But no money to pay for it (Road.cc, Grauniad). Pity, we hoped to build the Wendover-Amersham-Chalfonts stretch.


Harrowing Tales from Gt Missenden -

Have you mislaid an agricultural implement ?


FOI request roundup - with thanks to WhatDoTheyKnow

HS2 employ 4 members on FOI team; 182 requests refused (so far ...)
RFI20181705 (to BBC)
Please provide any internal documents detailing the way programme makers should or should not discuss both the HS2 project and the workings of the HS2 ltd. - Refused
Demand and Capacity Pressures on WCML - no information held
Fraud & Bribery cases 9 reported, 4 proven, 4 open investigations
FOI18 2093
“The designs provided by HS2 Ltd to Fusion regarding the Chiltern area which they are basing their Environmental Management plans on, as per point 22 in the Meeting Minutes of HS2 Chiltern AONB Review Group..."
Refused - work in progress ?


Saplings Scandal

Professor Lord May of Oxford is so appalled by the behaviour of HS2 Ltd that he says he would trust few people involved with HS2 to mow his lawn. (Video...) He is probably right - their horticultural skills seem somewhat lacking.


Wendover Viaduct - 'Consultation'

EK have held a few drop-in sessions, to extol the beauty of their design for the viaducts at Wendover Dean and Smalldean. Unfortunately, these designs have not met with unanimous approval (Daily Mail, Times). The EK documents and questionnaire are online, as is our suggested response (NB the online response form allows far more space for comments, & you can still submit it even if you completed the paper copy).

However, true power appears to reside with the HS2 design panel (who think it is lovely), and who consult no-one, so don't imagine anything will change.


It cost how much ??

"Spend on the HS2 scheme up until 2016/17 was £2.2bn. The full breakdown of this spend is covered in the published HS2 annual accounts, available online. A further £1,160m was spent in 2017/18, excluding Land and Property costs"



Crossrail no longer 'on time and on budget'

How can this be ? HS2 will surely learn from past mistakes...

24-Sep Kahn 'cannot be sure' of completion date, commissions report (Rail Tech)


A quarter of High Speed2 staff are paid more than £100,000 in salary and perks

That must be why its on time and under budget then ? (Daily Express, Public Finance)


HS2 Design Panel - Chair report

"Wendover Dean is one of the most sensitive locations on the Phase One route – and the proposed Wendover Dean Viaduct is a suitably sympathetic and elegant structure. "

... and we thought it looked like an ugly concrete box, constructed off site to save money. Wrong again ?


Cyclists ? Stuff them...

Cycling UK have a rough time at the Phase 2a select committee... (& if you think that was bad, wait till you get to the Lords). (City Metric)


Another £43billion, pretty please ?

... so people can get from the HS2 stations, to places they actually want to go to. Thanks, Sir John Armitt
( Independent, Spectator, Beleben )

"Sir John Armitt, the Government’s infrastructure tsar, said the cash should be invested in transport links outside London before the schedule opening of HS2 in 2026.
Without it the taxpayer-funded project – the most expensive in UK history – will fail passengers once they reach their less well connected destinations, he said
." (Daily Mail)


HoL Questions


HS2 will be four years late and cost double

The Government says phase one of HS2, the London-West Midlands section, will open at the end of 2026 at a cost of £27.2bn. Lord Berkeley, the former chair of the Rail Freight Group, and quantity surveyor Michael Byng disagree. This week they sent every MP two papers, one setting out why the Government’s costs and timetable for the project are wrong, the other arguing that the project should be axed in favour of smaller-scale improvements to the rail network." (Local Transport Today)

Asked about this new version, an HS2 Ltd spokesman told LTT this week: “To be honest, it’s very difficult to comment on figures like this ... . HS2 remains on track and within budget.


 HS2 Ltd is reneging on legally binding commitments made by Government to ensure cycle safety

"Following petitions from Cycling UK, the Government in 2014 gave assurances that HS2 Ltd would discuss how to provide cycle friendly conditions in HS2-related highway works, broadly in accordance with well-established design standards adopted by both Transport for London and the Welsh Government.

Speaking to the committee, Cycling UK’s Policy Director Roger Geffen explained HS2 Ltd had first attended the Cycle Proofing Working Group in September 2017, where the public company admitted it had no money to cycle proof any Phase 1 works." 

July-2018 Roundup

HS2 has pushed back the start date for its civils work

"The Department for Transport confirmed that the notice to proceed for the £6.6bn civils deals had been moved from the start of March to June to give contractors more time to finalise their designs.

This is HS2’s second change to the notice to proceed, with work having originally been scheduled to begin in November this year." (Construction News)

HS2 already delivering benefits to UK (Contractors ?)

A report produced by outgoing HS2 Ltd Chairman, Sir David Higgins, who clearly has first hand experience of these benefits

Phase 1 planning forum, January 2018

Careful, don't rush things.

Design Panel Newsletter, April-May 2018

Published in the usual timely fashion.

"Whilst challenges remain, overall the panel applauded the response to the nationally designated Chilterns AONB. The inherently landscape-led approach is producing some powerful and yet sensitively elegant proposals."

Would be nice to see them, then. Also, the full reviews of the Chalfonts & Amersham vent shafts, and the Wendover Green Tunnel S. Portal.

New Ground Investigation works contract in the Chilterns

"Fugro has been awarded a £5.2M site characterisation package by Align JV ... as part of design and construction preparation works for UK’s HS2 Phase 1 (Area: Central 1). (Tunneling Journal)"

Meanwhile, orders for the (Chilterns) Tunnel Boring Machines are about to be placed.

National Infrastructure Assessment (Report)

"Full evaluation should more often be undertaken to estimate impacts. In many areas, very few robust evaluations exist. For example, the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth has only identified two high quality evaluations worldwide of the economic impacts of high speed rail and none for trams or cycling schemes." (p102)

What other gems lurk within ? Will anyone read it all ?

DfT written questions

Infrastructure and Projects Authority

Annual report rates HS2 as "Amber-Red" - as usual; see Stop HS2 comment

Petition - save the Wet Woodland in Denham Country Park

"The Mid-Colne Valley Site of Metropolitan Importance (SMI) for nature conservation is too important to be lost. Priority habitats and species must not be swept under the carpet."

Construction Commissioner's Report

Fifth report of the (Interim) commissioner released. A permanent commissioner is to be appointed (soon ?)


HS2 'Green' corridor crap

"As the corridor is being delivered, HS2 is encouraging local people and organisations to get involved in everything from landscape design to tree planting. This includes supporting local environmental projects through its various community funds"

HS2 construction is guided by the Local Environment Management Plan, the Local Transport Management Plan, the Nominated Undertakers management plan for 'Environmentally Sensitive Worksites' such as the Chilterns, the Chilterns AONB review Group, and the HS2 Design Panel. None of these bodies have made any attempt to involve local people & organisations - or anyone else.

HS2 spent several years (& several £million) opposing every local suggestion concerning the design of the railway.

Further reading


HS2 will need a lot of power ...

KPMG report on HS2 power requirement released in response to FOI request (shared by John Marriot). Headline news - HS2 power requirement is around 60% of total UK rail power requirement - how can this be ?

"Traction power on the HS2 network comprises the largest portion of total annual power requirements for two main reasons:

  1. Power requirement per km on the faster HS2 network is 24.97 kWh/km, compared to 15.27 kWh/km on the slower conventional rail network"

(HS2 Electricity Strategy, p31). Thats a 63% increase - could it be because they run faster ?


Hillingdon Planning hearing

Can you get to a public hearing in the Civic Centre on July 3rd starting @ 10:00 to consider HS2’s Appeal against LBH for refusing to approve its wetland mitigation proposal?
(Ickenham Residents Association)


Amersham Vent Shaft

Engagement meeting with HS2 - see Notes


And again ?

Whistleblower Claims HS2 “Knowingly Misled Parliament” Covering Up £1.9bn “Petrifying Overspend” -
Stop HS2



Homeless in Camden ?

See Camden New Journal

HS2 have an Arts Strategy ?

HS2 are now advertising for a full-time arts curator who will support ‘the commissioning and co-ordination of an innovative programme of art commissions as part of the delivery of the HS2 Arts Strategy.’ (Frieze)

Perhaps they will get a compensation strategy soon ?


HS2 over budget (already)

Well fancy that ! See Stop HS2, and New Civil Engineer.

The 'Joint Ventures' appointed to submit costed, detailed designs have come up with totals £1.2bn (20%) higher than the target price of £6.6bn. Notice to proceed (ie start building the thing) has been put back from November this year, to February 2019.


May Roundup

1st June
Mark Thurston indicates doubts over HS2 budget
29th May
Greengauge 21 calls for High Speed Rail 'everywhere' by 2050
25th May
Bree Louise - still no compensation
HSUK - The case against HS2
23rd May
In Cab Signalling can provide capacity increase


New Reports -

Phase 1 planning forum - Minutes of the January meeting, released in a timely fashion on 15th May.

Independent Construction Commissioner - fourth report, and response from HS2



Recent Meetings

  • Chilterns Liaison forum (26th March), Chess Association (20th March) - see Meetings
  • Denham meeting - 28th March, commentary


Forestry Commission get £450K grant from HS2 community fund

(Lets keep it in the family). The Community Engagement Fund gave the grant towards the £4.45m redevelopment of Wendover Woods, enabling Nusrat Ghani (the HS2 minister) to get out into the countryside, before her department start ruining it. She said

"Whilst we know there will be disruption as we deliver one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects, we are absolutely committed to minimising the effects of building the new railway."

( so long as it doesn't cost more, for example by putting it in a tunnel )

HS2 preparation works expenditure (2016-17) - £6.6m / week


HS4Air – “An M25 for high speed trains”

HS4Air (High Speed for Air) is a proposed strategic high-speed rail/air connection in south east England developed by Expedition ...

"Hi Chris - remember that High Speed Rail Line ? Seems we forgot to connect it up to the other one - you know, goes through the tunnel thingy to France. You don't happen to have another £10bn to spare, do you, so we can bodge something up ?"

"No, no - it wasn't us, it was that prat Adonis"


Another few billion ?

" Some say that if individuals choose to live in rural areas, where broadband provision and mobile phone coverage may cost more, that choice should not be “subsidised” by others in urban areas. To which I say, but where do the urban dwellers get their food from, who keeps the countryside beautiful for them, who protects the landscape, keeps our nation’s green lungs breathing, who maintains the health, beauty and balance of nature for future generations? The people in rural areas who are currently being deprived an important service so many take for granted and need it now.

We’re planning to spend north of £60 billion on HS2, 30 times as much as it would cost to provide universal superfast broadband for everyone in the country."

(Secretary of State Michael Gove at the NFU Farming Conference 2018 - transcript)

Jon Bartley (Green Party) asks Chris Grayling what happened to the official £55.7 Bn estimate ? It cant have gone up again, can it ?


Injunction against Harvil Road protest

See HS2Watch page with link to GoFundMe - support the protest !


Carillion replaced

Following the total collapse of one of Britain’s largest contractors, Carillion, Kier and Eiffage have picked up its HS2 work. (more...)


Colne Valley Viaduct concepts released

HS2 Ltd today revealed an outline concept for the Colne Valley viaduct, published as a specimen design. No public consultation, and more concern for the view of the passengers than for the Noise impact on the valley (more...).


End of year roundup


HS2 Redundancy Payments swindle

HS2 waste £1.76m on unauthorised payments - but what about the other £55bn ?


Lorries seven times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes
on local roads than cars

New figures show that heavy goods vehicles are now twice as likely to be involved in a fatal collision on local roads than they were ten years ago ... more


Environmentally Sensitive Worksites - FOI request

(Thanks to Robert Smith & WhatDoTheyKnow )

As part of the LEMPs the Environmental Memorandum requires the NU to prepare site specific management plans for 'Key Environmentally Sensitive Worksites'" (thats us, folks) - When will HS2 publish these Site Specific Management Plans for the five identified Environmentally Sensitive Sites ?


As provided above, the draft plans are currently going through consultation with stakeholders such as the Environment Agency, Historic England and Natural England and are therefore unfinished documents. It is in the public interest that the consultation process is able to conclude before making information available in an unfinished form. Additionally, as the information is of interest to the wider public it is important it can be accessed simultaneously by the general public rather than piecemeal by disclosure to a small number of individuals under the EIR. The final plans will be published on the GOV.UK website before the end of the year. 

Dont consult us - we only live here


Newsletter from HS2 Amersham


Protest at Harvil Road, Denham

See HS2Watch for details


Trouble at Aquifer ?

Who broke the chalk ?


Petition: Cancel HS2 immediately and repeal the 2013 and 2017 High Speed Rail Acts.

HS2 is a vanity project, lobbied for by the firms who will make billions out of building it, at a time of continued austerity and cuts to essential services. Independent economists, rail experts and environmentalists have all heavily criticised the project, but Governments have refused to listen.

Petition to Parliament - please sign here


National Grid - Consultation (ends 25-Aug)

A chance to vote for underground cables - more...


HS2 Watch launched

HS2 Watch exists to monitor the construction of HS2 in the Chilterns AONB, to collect information about works in progress, and to support anybody wishing to complain about the conduct of HS2 or their contractors. (Hopefully this last function will prove entirely unnecessary). Complaints will be directed to the official HS2 channels, but HS2Watch will look out for any common features which may require further action.

Contact HS2Watch here if you have any information about construction works in the AONB or Colne Valley.


Impact of HS2 in the Chilterns - Talk

Free presentation available to local groups - more...


Chiltern Society meeting with HS2

To discuss the River Misbourne and the aquifer - notes , and a geology lesson.


Phase 1 Contracts Awarded

The Phase 1 contract and Phase 2 route decisions were announced in a written statement on 17th July. Following a request from Cheryl Gillan, Chris was forced to come to the house at 10pm (way past his bedtime) to allow the matter to be examined, and issue a further (oral) statement. The statement was welcomed by Lord Adonis (all you need to know ?).

Details of the Chilterns contracts can be found here.

While Michael Byng reports that the final cost of Phase 1 may reach £104 billion, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said it is “incredible, inconceivable and simply nonsense” to suggest the cost of HS2 is set to spiral.So that's all right then ?


Local Environmental Management Plans

These plans set out the site-specific control measures for HS2 contractors working within local authorities along the Phase One route.

There is one for Chiltern & Wycombe District :-

14.3.1 Temporary and permanent road closures and diversions of the following roads will likely be required:

a permanent realignment of B485 Chesham Road, including the associated realignment of King's Lane and provision of a roundabout junction with Chesham Road. Part of the existing King’s Lane alignment will be stopped up. Local access to 86 King's Lane will be retained;

This was dropped after the AP4 extension of the Chilterns Tunnel to South Heath

16.4.6 Groundwater from dewatering at vent shafts will be discharged back into the groundwater via recharge wells within the vicinity of the vent shaft. In the event that a technical constraint is identified at the detailed design stage, provision has been made to transfer some discharge by pipeline into the River Misbourne near each shaft.

I don't recall this being in the Environmental Statement


Great Missenden meeting (9th June)

Public meeting held on 9th June, with presentations from Bucks CC, Great Missenden Parish Council and HS2 Ltd


The Party Manifestos

What do they say about HS2, Green Belt, AONBs and the Environment ? See our 2017 Manifesto page.
(UKIP & Greens still awaited)


HS2 the least popular Conservative policy

Persisting with HS2 was ranked last in the Conservative Home "potential policy survey", just below continuing to spend 0.7% on foreign aid. See comments from Stop HS2.

How can this be ? See HS2AA for a few reasons why HS2 should be dropped.


Elections ? Again ??

Must be time for a new manifesto. There are rumors that the conservative commitment to HS2 may not figure in the new document (Express, Guardian) - although these have been denied by the usual suspects (see StopHS2).

Can we give it a nudge in the right direction ? Yes - complete this survey of voters priorities, and give HS2 a zero rating. ( You might feel that McLoughlin, Hammond & Greening deserve a kick in passing ). But hurry - they will need to publish it soon.


What's that smell ?

Transport Select Committee to question Grayling & Higgins about the CH2M self-awarded contract.


HS2 Bill receives Royal Assent

Well we tried...

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