Stop HS2 Phase 2 Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the phase two route go?
HS2 Phase 2 maps can be found on the Department for Transport’s website, here.

Where will the stations be on the Y route?
There will be five HS2 stations north of Birmingham at Manchester; Manchester Airport; Toton near Nottingham; Sheffield; and Leeds.

What will the local effects of HS2 be?

  • noise blight,
  • a visual scar
  • bisection of properties, businesses, communities,
  • noise and dust from construction for several years
  • severance of some footpaths and bridleways
  • adverse effects on ancient woodlands, wildlife sites and SSSIs
  • a lack of suitable compensation for many people with properties close to the proposed route (based on the experience of phase one)

Will HS2 help the north south divide?
Estimates from HS2 Ltd suggest that more than 70% of new jobs created as a result of HS2 will be in south east England. Independent studies of high speed lines in Europe suggest that the most additional jobs tend to be created in the capital city served.

Will HS2 tickets be affordable?
Tickets from Ashford (Kent) to London are 20% more expensive on HS1 than on classic trains. Experience in other countries shows high speed rail ticket premiums ranging from 13% to over 200%.

What are the experiences of high speed rail in other countries?
Many countries have found that passenger numbers fall short of predicted volumes. This in turn necessitates government support running into billions of pounds per year. Some countries have abandoned plans to build high speed lines e.g. Poland, Portugal, three American states. In Spain a high speed line was closed after passenger numbers were so low; the failed route was costing 18,000€ per day to operate.

Do anti HS2 action groups exist?
There are approximately 70 action groups opposed to HS2 between London and Lichfield. Their activities are coordinated by an umbrella organisation Action Groups Against High Speed Two (AGAHST). You can find contact details on our contacts page.

How can I help the campaign against HS2?
There are numerous ways to fight HS2. We’ve suggested some here.  In addition, campaigners have held walks, organised meetings, baked cakes, written letters, raised funds, produced protest songs, made films… If you would like to help the campaign, please contact

We have prepared a starter pack to help you get an action group up and running in your area. Please send your name & address/email address to

There are people in existing action groups who will be happy to provide additional advice.

Will there be extra services on “classic lines”?
In reality there will be fewer services on classic lines. 13 stations will be affected by fewer services and these include Stoke-on-Trent, Wilmslow, Stockport, Leicester, Chesterfield, Wakefield and Warrington (HS2 phase 2). There will also be 16 stations that will experience longer journey times. These cuts are planned to enable savings of £7.7 billion to be made.

What will be the effects on rail investment on classic lines?
Major rail investment is planned in 5 year “chunks”. The most recent announcement was made in July 2012 and covered the period 2014-19. HS2 expenditure (phases 1 and 2) is expected to exceed £40 billion (line construction and trains) and will continue through to 2032/3. The UK’s national debt is likely to go on increasing until 2016 or later. As a consequence future expenditure on classic rail is likely to be more limited while HS2 is under construction. This has been the experience in other countries, particularly France.

Is HS2 good value for money?
Comparing the cost per mile of building HS2 (phase 1) with the corresponding cost in France, the UK line is four times more expensive. The latest DfT calculation indicates the benefit cost ratio is 2. However HS2 Action Alliance believes there are several shortcomings with the DfT’s calculation and when corrected the real numbers are 0.43 (phase 1) and 0.9 (phase 2). In other words the benefit is less than the cost invested.

19 comments to “Stop HS2 Phase 2 Frequently Asked Questions”
  1. Dft won’t tell me so can one of the pro hs2 people who read this site please tell me what inter city trains will be taken off the wcml or will it be all of them

    • @John
      The DfT can’t tell you because you are essentially asking someone to predict an outcome, subject to a myriad of variable factors, more than 10 years in advance – you might just as well ask them for this coming Saturday’s Lotto numbers!

      All one can predict at this juncture is that significant numbers of existing WCML (and ECML for that matter) express intercity train services will ultimately transfer to HS2. The process of transfer will be staged, due to the (current) plan to stage construction of the new line and it will also be subject to market forces. It’s likely for example that those services currently only calling at limited stops, such as Manchester, Stockport, Wilmslow and then direct to London, will be prime candidates to transfer but services calling at intermediate stops, such as Milton Keynes, en-route are less likely to transfer – but no one can predict with any degree of accuracy right now, more than a decade out – I think you actually understand this reality but perhaps you are just trying to prove a point here?

        • I would not find hurtling along a track at 200-250mph a comfortable experience, much the same as some people are afraid of flying. So you wouldn’t get people like me transferring from the 70-120 mph steady express intercity trains on to HS2.

          As trains have not yet operated at such high speed, will the track and train designers really be able to get the trains to go that fast? And will £33bn cover the cost to reinforce the ground beneath these long tracks and make them sound enough to carry 18 trains an hour in each direction at this ridiculously high speed? I think I’ll get a lotto ticket for Saturday night. Any suggestions for the winning numbers?

          • It is perfectly reasonable to not like the idea of travelling on trains at very high speeds, but if you go to France you might not actually notice it. Our “steady express intercity trains” can often be rougher riding! However, feelings and facts are very different things!

            To say “As trains have not yet operated at such high speed…” when talking about 200 to 250 mph operation is just not true – see for example Wikipedia “A TGV test train set the record for the fastest wheeled train, reaching 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) on 3 April 2007. As of mid 2011, scheduled TGV trains operate at the highest speeds in conventional train service in the world, regularly reaching 320 km/h (200 mph) on the LGV Est and the LGV Méditerranée.”

          • @Gloria
            Have you ever travelled on a High Speed train, such as the, Eurostar between London and Paris/Brussels, TGV in France, ICE in Germany and AVE in Spain?

            From the nature of your comment, I’d venture to suggest that you haven’t?

            Using the example of a Pendolino type express inter city train between Manchester and London, the quality of travel is much better than its UK bound conventional rail counterpart.

            You refer to a “70-120 mph steady express” – by contrast, internal movement inside a High Speed Train is less pronounced, accelaration is certainly smoother, braking is probably similar to the UK experience (the laws of physics are universal) but what sets apart European gauge carriages from their UK standard gauge equivalents is the signficantly increased space and comfort.

            I think you have some pre-conceived misconceptions about High Speed Train travel. I believe the main market area where this contrast will become most obvious is between short-haul air and its high speed rail rival – once High Speed Rail is enabled to begin competing head to head, ie. over a point to point journey, with short-haul air it really comes into its own, exposing the shortcomings and downright annoying constraints of short-haul air travel.

            So whilst you may shy away from High Speed Rail due to misconceived notions, a whole new generation of travellers will dive in there and find the experience wholly fulfilling – so much so that they will repeat the exercise, again and again!

            • It still costs £ 39 BILLION and is a total waste of money.

              I have just seen the clip from Question Time in Lancaster last week and was amazed at the reaction of the audience. Seems not everybody in the North thinks HS2 is such a great idea.

            • @Peter, So credulous, I am actually well travelled and from experience I have just found that I prefer not to go too fast along the ground.

              The best railway journey I have experienced was across Switzerland, taking several trains, all comfortable and on time to the minute and I was attended to by polite and obliging railway staff all the way. It was fast and reliable, but not too fast.

              The worst journey I have experienced was on Eurostar, with the long queues and departure delay, then the train had to go very slowly due to maintenance and track problems, and en route, when my husband had fought his way to the refreshment carriage at the opposite end of the train to our seats, all refreshments were sold out. If I had to get to Paris again I would prefer to fly because my flight from Heathrow to Paris was so much better!

              Thank you for reminding me about the theory of relativity, but as I said I don’t like travelling on fast trains.

  2. Thought the judgement on the consultation was due in january. Do you think the judge is wondering how to let Cameron down gently.I do hope so.

    • I think quite the contrary. I agree the verdict seems late and the announcement re the second phase to well orchestrated (and well managed in media). It appears that the matter is a done deal. Any dissent no matter how well or scientifically founded is dismissed as Nimbyism.
      The BBC seem hard pressed to take a balanced view and since the announcement have shown a bias, allowing the N word to be used without any contextual setting ie Chiltern and other ANOB or scientific sites of importance. Perhaps it is because they were forced to reduce their London base and expand their Northern sites. HS2 will enable them to commute. This Week and Material World both used the N word and also had no oppositional representation.

      • @Paul Harlow

        I agree with much of your analysis – no one here seems to consider that a Minister of State might just have contacts in “high places” so he could well be pre-informed about the content of the judicial review findings?

        There is of course a sound reason why media commentary about protests against HS2 is “dismissed as Nimbyism” and that is the fact that a huge percentage of said protest emanates from areas in close proximity to the preferred route pathways?

        I think you will find that more weight is given to scientifically based opposition – there just isn’t that much of it. Most of the non-local opposition originates from politically orientated think tanks, such as the TaxPayersAlliance, IEA and Adam Smith Institute, who oppose HS2 specifically because it is a taxpayer underwritten project and any plan for large public investment is bound to arouse their hostility. The BBC in particular will be very wary about giving prominence to one side (in this instance the right of centre, laissez faire, free market school of thought) within a politically charged debate?

        • Recent history is telling. THe Bow group have an interesting record on the shifts in approach to HS2.
          Protection of the Chilterns ANOB and use of existing transport corridors was once considered important by all parties and was taken into account. This was the position at the election and in manifesto available to the public.
          Like so much the coalition has demonstrated an anability to hold to the course for which they were elected and have moved without a mandate from the electorate, No wonder there has been a reliance on spin, obfuscation and the short memories of the electorate in the face of noise.
          The truth is that the whole project has been poorly thought through, contaminated by political meddling, is essentially flawed, based on speed not capacity and is a vanity project.

          “I am convinced it is a huge mistake not to connect direct to Heathrow from the start. Taking the line via our major hub airport would remove the need to build an expensive spur later. It would lead to a new route that makes better use of existing transport corridors and avoids an area of outstanding natural beauty where residents were wrongly insulted as ‘NIMBYs’ by Tory Ministers. It also opens up the opportunity to connect to the Great Western mainline, bringing the benefits of the high speed line to the South West and Wales”
          Shadow Transport Secretary, Maria Eagle MP, October 2011

          from Bow Group website
          Conservatives therefore supported the same route as that now backed by Maria Eagle, providing connectivity between HSR, the exisitng railway and Heathrow, improving HSR‟s business case, and minimising its environmental impact by following existing motorways and transport corridors (the approach successfully adopted by HS1 which parallels the M20 in Kent – photo right).
          Importantly, a route via Heathrow would also allow HSR to cross the narrowest part of the Chilterns‟ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), unlike Labour‟s then chosen route for HS2 which passes through its widest part. Lord Adonis prioritised speed over capacity Lord Adonis, as the last Labour Transport Secretary, supported a route which was largely dictated by the need to allow the incredibly high speed of 400 kilometres per hour a speed not achieved by any other railway in the world. This meant that the line had to be as straight as possible; the route shamelessly carves through the AONB. Claims that HS2 follows an existing transport corridor are self evidently incorrect when the route through the tranquil Misbourne Valley is seen on the ground.
          Whilst the Chilterns have attracted the most attention, HS2 would also have severe impacts on London‟s western suburbs, where the proposed line would be on the surface. This is one of the key aspects of HS2 that concerns Mayor Boris Johnson.6 Lord Adonis‟s vision was for a point to point railway, not an integrated transport network. Heathrow, the world‟s busiest international airport and UK‟s only hub, was treated as an afterthought, relegated to reliance on passengers changing trains at Old Oak Common, in west London, to reach the airport. Ignoring ways in which rail could reduce the environmental impact of air travel and demanding an ultra high speed railway, with its disproportionate energy demands, makes any environmental claims for the Government‟s preferred route for HS2 highly questionable.
          and further
          Experts from HS1, Chilterns campaigners, the aviation sector and high speed rail operators from across the world supported the pre-election Conservative route for HS2. So what happened? Role Reversal As a result of Maria Eagle‟s policy U-turn there is a strange political situation. Following the Coalition Government taking office in May 2010, the new Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, abandoned the Conservatives‟ proposals and instead consulted, in 2011, on Labour‟s unpopular and flawed route, with branch lines retrofitted between HS2, Heathrow and HS1. Far from improving the original flawed proposal, these afterthoughts make the scheme even more expensive, environmentally more damaging and less financially justifiable.

  3. Another FAQ –
    Will it be good for the environment?

    It is a widely held belief that rail travel is more environmentally friendly than other forms of transport and that high speed rail provides an alternative to domestic flights.

    However, higher speed means greater energy consumption which increases approximately with the square of the speed. Operating at 360 km/h consumes 23% more energy than at 300 km/h. Also, higher speed requires the line to be straight and relatively flat. This means that the line cannot curve to avoid environmentally sensitive areas, and needs tunnels, cuttings, embankments and viaducts in order to level out the gradient. These measures result in larger amounts of ‘embedded carbon’. At best HS2 is carbon neutral. This is not good enough for a £35 billion transport scheme at a time when carbon reduction is of paramount importance.

    As an alternative to domestic flights, two-thirds of the one million or so passengers between Manchester and Heathrow are connecting with other flights. With no proper service to Heathrow, passengers connecting with other flights will not use HS2 but continue with short haul flights instead. Given the number of passenger journeys and that one of the selling points of HS2 is to reduce internal flights, this looks like a big planning failure.

  4. We are emmigrating. Hurray!
    Faced with 10 years plus of construction chaos in our rural area on the outskirts of Wendover we are going to rent out the house on a long term basis and have secured jobs in happier locations. Our property is just over 1 mile from the HS2 line. Life is too short to stay here and worry about all the chaos and noise……

  5. I agree,
    just checked the poll in the Telegraph after the Y announcement.10,896 votes 7,174 (65-84%) said No to HS2 the economic benefits were unproven.It is a waste of money
    The government are digging themselves into a big hole,trouble is I can see nothing better to replace them..

    • Quite true- and doubtless reflects the long established position taken by the ‘Telegraph’ and of its readership.
      One might as well seek an objective analysis of the E.U. from the Daily Wail.

    • MSN homepage poll had 13 % thinking HS2 was a good idea on a sample of about 10,000. Not scientific I know but surely an indication of public opinion.

      I had thought the public was split 50 / 50 but the argument is swinging against HS2 now that Cameron has so firmly declared his colours. Most people think he is an idiot and therefore as likely to be wrong on this as on most other things.

  6. One thing we can be certain of is that the cost will escalate and 100 billion will be nearer the mark, we can also be certain that the benefits will be less by a similiar factor. I would sooner see the money spent on new technological links faster broadband etc. We should not assume that in 2030 people will still be conducting business in the way it is done now. Our money and effort would be better spent on better faster links with the outside world. Who cares if you can get to London or elsewhere a few minutes quicker?

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