One of the suggestions from the Stocktake report by incoming HS2 chair, Allan Cook, was that the Department for Transport should add electrifying part of the Midland Main Line (MML) to the HS2 scope (and put a bit more into the HS2 budget to cover this).
The emerging estimate (CP2.1 is planned for July 2019) will be further developed towards Baseline 2 (due in early 2020) and will reflect additional scope expected to be instructed by the DfT including touchpoints with NPR and electrification of sections of the Midland Main Line, for which commensurate funding will be required.
Going back to the original justification for HS2, this makes no sense. Part of the reason we supposedly needed a brand new line was that it was soooo hard to maintain and improve existing railways, and a brand new railway would avoid all of that.
This means that within HS2 Ltd there would not be a focus on developing the skills and techniques for improvements: they are building new. (It’s not to say that individual staff might not have this experience, but working for HS2 Ltd would not give them the opportunity to develop it further.)
The MML needs to be electrified as part of a normal programme for updating and maintaining the existing network, and also as part of the UK’s goals for reducing carbon. But tying it into HS2 makes no sense from that point of view: rather than a standalone project in its own right, it would suddenly be caught up in the wider management issues of HS2. Problems elsewhere in HS2 would have a knock-on effect on MML, when really they are separate entities.
If HS2 was doing well, adding MML electrification might make sense: get those clever people at HS2 Ltd to sort things out. But HS2 is not doing well, with massive delays and a blown budget.
So why add an entirely different type of project to the HS2 scope?
From HS2’s point of view, adding electrification will increase the HS2 budget, (you can’t expect them to add to the scope without more money). It will be another set of people to support HS2, because it will now be “needed” for MML electrification. It will add all the benefits due from electrification to the HS2 benefits. It will aid the HS2 carbon case, which relies on comparing HS2 trains to the current conventional mix of electric and diesel trains.
This is another cynical attempt by an HS2 supporter to try and make HS2 seem far far better than it really is.