Rush or No Rush

Last week the Commons select committee on HS2 completed their hearings of the petitioners who deposited petitions against the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill and five sets of additional provisions.

The Committee website say the Committee plan to have with a short wrap-up public session on 22 February. According to the website, the final report of the committee will also be published on 22 February or as soon as possible thereafter.

However in Birmingham last week, Patrick McLoughlin finally got round to opening the HS2 offices there.  For a project supposedly to help rebalance the economy away from London, it has taken a long time for the company itself to move staff away from London.  (Meanwhile, the Mirror reports that the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ department is to close Sheffield office and move 247 jobs to London.)

But there is, according to McLoughlin, no intention to speed building HS2 beyond Birmingham.

According to the Express and Star, McLoughlin told them regarding the decision to bring forward construction of the line to Crewe, he added: “With all infrastructure projects, we can safely say they are never rushed.

“This will not be rushed. The section of the line up to Crewe will go through the same procedure as that from London to Birmingham.

“The committee stage, the environmental work – it is all going to happen, it will all take place.”

What’s really key with this, is that there is no timescale for when the Phase 2a hybrid bill will be introduced – but first the Phase 1 bill needs to pass through the third reading in the Commons, and then the petitioning process in the Lords. Nor is there any rush to make decisions about the rest of Phase 2 of HS2 – originally to be announced in Autumn 2014.

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