Labour Questions on HS2

14th March Parliamentary written questions on HS2 from Maria Eagle, shadow Transport Secretary:

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport

(1) with reference to her Department’s publication 2012 Economic Case for HS2 for what reason the projected London to Liverpool high speed rail journey times have increased compared to her 2011 consultation on high speed rail;

(2) for what reason she has altered the service specification assumptions for the high speed rail network in her January 2012 revision to the Economic Case for HS2; and why this has resulted in (a) reduced high speed services (i) between Preston and London and (ii) between York and Darlington and (b) the removal of HS2 services to Warrington and Wigan.

Justine Greening: Indicative service specifications for the HS2 network have been prepared by HS2 Ltd for the purpose of understanding the potential benefits of HS2, for inclusion in the economic case for the project. As the document made clear, these specifications are purely illustrative. Final decisions on service specifications will be taken considerably nearer the opening of the network by a network operator based upon the latest patterns of demand and in consultation with the towns and cities served.

I anticipate that HS2 will generate significant journey time savings not only for the key cities already identified on the network but also a range of other destinations through classic compatible running and other means. HS2 will bring great benefits to the regions served and I look forward to working with them to ensure that all the possible benefits are maximised.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to her Department’s publication 2012 Economic Case for HS2 whether, in order to provide two services per hour between London and Newcastle on the proposed high speed rail network, she considered alternatives to assigning £1 billion to special 260 metre trainsets for Newcastle.

Justine Greening: HS2 Ltd undertook an investigation of whether it would be practical to operate the standard GC gauge continental trains right through to Newcastle, through gauge clearance works on this section of the East Coast Main Line. The conclusion — as published in the “Review of Technical Specification of High Speed Rail in the UK” — was that the cost of upgrading the route to GC gauge would be between £3.5 billion and £4 billion, comparable to the cost of building an entirely new high speed railway between York and Newcastle.

The additional rolling stock costs included in the most recent economic case reflect the fact that more rolling stock will be required to run the enhanced level of services proposed in the service specification. The planned 260 metre train sets would enable higher capacity services to serve destinations off the HS2 network, bringing significant benefits to passengers. The assumed cost of these 260 metre trains is pro-rata to the mechanically similar 200 metre “classic compatible” trains.

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to her Department’s publications Economic Case for HS2 published in 2011 and Economic Case for HS2 published in January 2012, for what reason the projected cost of operating and maintaining the HS2 network over the 60 year appraisal period has increased by £5.9 billion. [99584]

Justine Greening: The reasons are set out at section 4.5 of the “Economic Case for HS2: Updated Appraisal of Transport User Benefits and Wider Economic Benefits”, available at
http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/hs2-economic-case-appraisal-update/

Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to her Department’s publication January 2012 Economic Case for HS2, what steps she plans to take to achieve the £5.1 billion of operating savings on the existing rail network.

Justine Greening: This figure represents the net cost savings from the reconfiguration of intercity services operating on the existing network and increases in other services utilising the capacity released on the existing network as a result of HS2. Separately, the Government are implementing a range of measures to make the railways financially sustainable in the long term. These plans are outlined in the Command Paper, “Reforming Our Railways”, published on 9 March 2012.

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