Dec 1, 2013

High-speed rail legislation published

The Government has introduced the legislation required for its proposed new high speed rail project, known as HS2.

Category: General
Posted by: Jack

The Government has introduced the legislation required for its proposed new high speed rail project, known as HS2.

The hybrid Bill, unveiled in Parliament on Monday, covers phase one of the rail link and a new railway between London and Birmingham.

The Bill is effectively the planning application for the scheme and will give the Government the powers to construct and operate the railway. It will also give those affected by the proposed line the opportunity to petition Parliament, both for and against the proposals, and have their case heard by a committee of MPs.

As well as the Bill - 428 pages long with 65 clauses and 31 Schedules - the Department for Transport has published the scheme's Environmental Statement (ES) and a number of other key documents. These include:

  • a command paper setting out outcomes of the Phase One design refinement consultation for 12 design refinements;
  • a command paper on impacts on social rented housing; and
  • a command paper on properties above tunnels.

The ES highlighted that around 23 per cent of the line between London and the West Midlands will be in tunnels and around 32 per cent of the route of the new line will be in cuttings.

Landscaped earthworks and the planting of at least two million trees will help to screen the railway, reduce the impacts of train noise and integrate the line into the landscape

Drawing on Japanese technology, HS2 trains will be fitted with special features to help reduce noise. Measures include the use of wheel firings to cut the noise made by the wheels on rails (the biggest source of noise on any electrified railway) and eliminating the gaps between each train carriage to cut noise and boost aerodynamic efficiency.

Consultation on the ES has now started and will last until 24 January 2014. Ministers hope to have Royal Assent for the Bill within two years so construction of the scheme can begin in 2016/17 for completion in 2026.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin called the Bill "a significant step forward in the government's strategy for a high speed rail network that will address the critical capacity constraints that we face and improve connectivity between our great cities".

Read the Department for Transport news release.

Roger Milne

28 November 2013

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