With all the finesse of a damp squib, HS2 have finally got round to moving their website to the .gov.uk domain – you can link direct here.
The content is still being migrated, but one thing they won’t be moving is the old graphic showing the proposed timeline for HS2 – this has been too embarrassing for them to leave up for some time.
For Phase 2, the route was supposed to be announced in 2014: now delayed until later this year – if they get round to it.
Under the original plans, the Phase 2 engineering design and environmental impact assessment were supposed to have started – but if, as the Department for Transport claim, no decisions on the route have been made, HS2 Ltd can’t sensibly do these.
2015 was also supposed to see the preparation of second hybrid bill. HS2 Ltd might manage to start this as the Chair of HS2 is now suggesting ministers might split out the hybrid bill for the section of HS2 up to Crewe. But the Hybrid Bill for the rest of Phase 2 has to wait until decisions about the route are made
The graphic shows the target date for the Phase 1 HS2 hybrid bill royal assent was 2015 with construction starting in 2017. However, even the most optimistic guess for royal assent is 2016: at the Transport Select Committee on 17th November 2014, David Higgins, chair of HS2 Ltd, said they were “still forecasting Royal Assent by the end of 2016, which would allow construction to start 2017”.
The next week, though Higgins told the House of Commons Governance Committee that
“…It is the same with HS2. We do not have to start in 2017; quite the contrary. You can build it quicker than any current programme suggests if you know exactly why you are doing it, why you are going to a certain city and not another one, and the purpose of the brief. That would be my recommendation.”
So, regardless of the new website, one thing seems certain: delays and more delays on the HS2 line.
PS The original graphic is still available here.