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High speed rail: overview

 

Summary

As a county council, we remain focused on getting the best deal for Staffordshire in terms of mitigation, compensation for residents, economic benefits and improved connectivity.

We petitioned against Phase 1 (London – West Midlands) and successfully achieved the lowering of 8 km of the line in Lichfield. We also secured an assurance that the Handsacre link, connecting HS2 to the West Coast Main Line, would be constructed. This will provide the infrastructure needed for Staffordshire to receive HS2 services and benefit economically.

We also petitioned against the Phase 2a (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill in Parliament and achieved several improvements to the existing mitigation, including an assurance to lower the line of route as it passes near Kings Bromley on viaduct, and a multi-million pound package of highways improvements.

On Wednesday 21 August 2019 the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps published the terms of reference and timetable for an independent review into the High Speed 2 project, known as the Oakervee Review. This independently-led government review considered whether and how HS2 should proceed. Its report was published on 11 February 2020.

The Oakervee Review recommended that all phases of the scheme should proceed, with some changes to optimise design, reduce costs and improve governance arrangements. It recommended that the Handsacre Link, connecting HS2 to the West Coast Mainline and enabling Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent to receive a high-speed service to London, be removed. However, this recommendation was not accepted by government.

 


 

Phase 1

What are the timescales for this phase?

The Phase One hybrid bill was submitted to parliament in November 2013. It has completed the Parliamentary process in both houses and received Royal Assent in February 2017. Royal Assent is when the Queen formally agrees to make the Bill an Act of Parliament. It granted deemed planning permission for the construction, operation and maintenance of HS2 Phase One.

Construction is now in progress. The Notice to Proceed, which gives formal approval for commencement of the main civil engineering works, was given by government on 15 April 2020. HS2 Ltd have stated that construction will be undertaken in line with Public Health England advice during the coronavirus outbreak.

On the same day, the Department for Transport published an updated Full Business Case for High Speed 2 Phase One, setting out the strategic and economic case for the project. 

The line is expected to open to passengers between 2029 - 2033.

For more information please visit the HS2 website.

What will the new line do?

Link London to the West Midlands with a connection onto the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre in Lichfield. In Staffordshire, the railway will pass through Lichfield District and through the Parishes of Drayton Bassett, Hints, Weeford, Swinfen and Packington, Whittington, Fradley and Streethay, and Kings Bromley. The 12 mile railway through Lichfield joins the West Coast Main Line near to Handsacre.

‘Classic compatible’ high speed services will run from Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford, starting on the West Coast Main Line then joining the high-speed line via the Handsacre link.

Find out about the environmental impact of the new line.

Can I petition against this phase?

No, petitioning on Phase One has now closed. Petitions made against the bill are on the HS2 bill select committee website.

As a result of our petition we received four assurances from HS2 Ltd. We continue to work through the remaining items in our petition to reach the best possible outcome.

View the assurances and undertakings.

Can I claim compensation?

The residents’ charter and further information on the compensation schemes are available on the GOV.UK website.

 


 

Phase 2 – Timeline 2015-2021

HS2 Phase Two is being delivered in 2 stages:

On 30 November 2015, then Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the accelerated route from the West Midlands to Crewe, referred to as Phase 2a. It is expected that Phase 2a will open between 2032-33. The Phase 2a Hybrid was deposited in Parliament on 17 July 2017.

As part of this, a full Environmental Statement (ES) was produced. This was subject to a ten-week consultation, offering members of the public the opportunity to comment. This closed on 30 September 2017. We submitted a joint response (802 KB) with Lichfield District Council, Stafford Borough Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. 

The Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 30 January 2018. This triggered a petitioning period which ran until 26 February 2018. The county council petitioned on a range of matters (some jointly alongside district and borough councils).

The Department for Transport deposited an additional provision (AP1) to the Bill on Friday 23 March 2018. Petitioning against AP1 closed on Friday 27 April 2018. We submitted a response to the consultation (455 KB) but did not petition the additional provision. View AP1 documents.

The Department for Transport deposited a second additional provision (AP2) to the Bill on Friday 8 February 2019. Petitioning against AP2 closed on Friday 15 March 2019. The county council submitted a response to the consultation (773 KB), and also petitioned the additional provision.

On 15 July 2019 the Bill received its Third Reading in the House of Commons, by 263 votes to 17 votes. The Bill received its First Reading in the House of Lords on 16 July. The first reading triggered a further petitioning period.

The Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 9 September 2019.

The Bill was committed to a Select Committee to consider the petitions deposited against it and on 19 October 2020 the Select Committee published a report setting out their recommendations.

On 23 November 2020, the government published its response to the Select Committee’s report. On 24 November 2020, the government published a Command Paper setting out the government overview of the case for HS2 Phase 2a and its environmental impacts, in advance of the Bill receiving its Third Reading in the House of Lords. On 14 December 2020 the Bill received its Third Reading in the House of Lords.

The Bill secured Royal Assent on 11 February 2021 and is now the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Act 2021.

Further details relating to the bill and Select Committee can be found on the UK Parliament website.

The Act grants powers to:

  • build and maintain HS2 and its associated works
  • compulsorily acquire interests in the land required
  • affect or change rights of way, including the stopping-up or diversion of highways and waterways (permanently or temporarily)
  • modify infrastructure belonging to statutory undertakers (e.g. utility companies)
  • carry out work on listed buildings and demolish buildings in conservation areas
  • carry out protective works to buildings and third-party infrastructure
  • make necessary changes to existing legislation to facilitate construction and operation of HS2

Can I petition against this phase?

No. Petitioning on this Phase has now closed.

Second Reading in the House of Commons took place on 30 January 2018. This triggered a petitioning period which ran until 26 February 2018. We petitioned on a range of matters including PRoW. View the petition document.

A shortlist of key items was taken forward to Select Committee. We appeared on the 23 April on its headline item, the Whitmore to Madeley tunnel extension. The decision of the Select Committee on this matter was that they would not wish to recommend a tunnel at this stage. View a copy of the Select Committee’s first report.

The council was scheduled to appear on its remaining items on 8 May 2018. These included Highways matters such as routing construction traffic out of Lichfield City Centre, minimisation of use of Yarnfield Lane and Beaconside, a suite of measures on the Stone railhead/IMB-R and protection of veteran trees and hedgerows, among other items. Following robust negotiations with HS2 Ltd., supported by our parliamentary agent and QC, a suite of assurances and undertakings on key items was agreed. Consequently, the Council did not appear at Select Committee on 8 May. The Council reserved its position in relation to the point on land use and timing at Rugeley Power Station.

Negotiating assurances in this way retains control in the hands of the council as far as possible. Should the council have elected to appear at Committee, it is quite possible that all the offers from HS2 Ltd. would have been withdrawn, or at the very least reduced in number.

Petitioning in the House of Lords closed on 16 August 2019. The county council did not submit a petition to the House of Lords.

Can I claim compensation?

The exceptional hardship scheme can help property owners who are affected by the proposals for the Phase Two line of route. The residents’ charter and further information on other compensation schemes are available on the GOV.UK website.

View more about the exceptional hardship scheme on the GOV.UK website.

 


 

Phase 2a – Royal Assent

The second stage of Britain’s High Speed 2 (HS2) project has been given the green light after receiving royal assent on February 11 2021.

The 60km Phase 2a will run from the northern end of Phase 1 at Fradley in the West Midlands to Crewe in Cheshire, where trains will join the existing network to provide direct services to destinations including Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow. The Crewe station will also provide connections to North Wales and Shrewsbury. 

The signing of the HS2 Phase 2a Bill into law will allow HS2 Ltd to start environmental works along the route with construction on this section expected to begin by 2024. 

The project will include the construction of 17 viaducts, 65 bridges, 36 embankments, 26 cuttings, two tunnels and a maintenance base. 

 


 

Consultations

On 1 February 2021, the Minister of State for Transport announced a consultation seeking views on a variety of issues related to the proposals in the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill (HS2 Phase 2a Bill).

The consultation closed at 11:45pm on 26 February 2021.

The government sought the views of residents in the local authority areas of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, and the stakeholders listed in Annex B of the consultation document, on:

(a) the impact of road traffic as a result of the HS2 Phase 2a works

(b) the impact of the HS2 Phase 2a works on the natural environment, including but not limited to the impact on ancient woodland.

(c) whether there are sufficient transport provisions for passengers connecting to HS2 Phase 2a, and to address changes to general passenger movements caused by the HS2 Phase 2a works

(d) if not, whether the construction of new railway stations and improvements to railway stations, including any associated reopening of lines, is necessary in relation to (c)

The authority’s joint response can be viewed below:

This was submitted in conjunction with our previous responses to HS2 Ltd on the Bill (now Act) and these should also be considered part of the response.

 


 

Phase 2b

The government plans to present an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands by the end of the year, informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission, which will look at how to deliver HS2 Phase 2b, Northern Powerhouse Rail, Midlands Rail Hub and other rail programmes better and more effectively.

Subject to this, the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b will run between Crewe and Manchester, connecting to the West Coast Main Line south of Wigan, and the Eastern Leg will connect the West Midlands with Leeds.

HS2 published updated plans for the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b in October. These also describe the work we need to do to the existing rail network to enable HS2 trains to serve stations to the north of Manchester, including Preston and Carlisle.

Alongside these updates, the Minister of State for Transport announced a consultation on four proposed changes to the design of the Western Leg, which ran from 7 October 2020 to 11 December.

You can find out more about the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b, between Crewe and Manchester, connecting to the West Coast Main Line south of Wigan, on HS2’s dedicated Western Leg page.

 


 

Frequently asked questions

What's the latest?

On Wednesday 21 August 2019 the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps published the terms of reference and timetable for an independent review into the High Speed 2 project report will inform the government’s decisions on next steps for the project.

Where is the route going?

View the Phase One Route through Staffordshire.

On 30 November 2015, then Chancellor, George Osborne confirmed the accelerated route from the West Midlands to Crewe, which will be referred to as Phase 2a. On 17 July 2017, the hybrid Bill for the section of route was deposited to Parliament. It is currently passing through the House of Lords.

View further information on the route.

What are we doing?

We are: 

  • Engaging with HS2 Ltd. to help get the best deal for Staffordshire.
  • Continuing to invest in our current infrastructure.
  • Talking to parish councils, local groups and residents to make sure the Government and HS2 Ltd. hear our concerns through the construction phase.
  • Supporting affected communities at HS2 Ltd. organised and other community meetings.
  • Delivering our statutory role under the Acts.

Local Authorities Statutory Role

The Act grants deemed planning permission for construction, maintenance and operation of the railway. It establishes a planning regime in Schedule 17 under which certain detailed planning matters are reserved for local authority approval. As the Highway Authority/Minerals and Waste Planning Authority some of these detailed planning matters will fall to the county council. These are:

Plans and specifications and construction arrangements about waste and soil disposal and excavation of bulk materials from borrow pits. Grounds for refusal are limited.

Construction arrangements comprising lorry routing. It is important to note that HS2 Ltd or their contractors must only seek approval for routes when there are more than 24 heavy vehicle movements per day (in either direction). The grounds on which we can refuse lorry route arrangements are also limited.

Under Schedule 4 Part 1 of the Highways Act, Staffordshire County Council has 28 days notice from HS2 to oppose plans within the Act Limits. This can include opposing the alteration of highway used by vehicular traffic and providing an alternate place which would reduce injury to local amenity and effects on road safety. More information on Grounds Refusal can be found . All other planning matters for approval under the Planning Conditions Schedule (Schedule 17) are approved by the relevant district or borough council.

Information about HS2, including what they are doing in Staffordshire on both sections of the route and notifications of upcoming works can be found on their Commonplace website.

Complaints should be directed to HS2 Ltd.

How do I contact SCC on HS2 related matters?

Please email hs2enquiries@staffordshire.gov.uk

What’s happening next?

Construction for the main civil engineering works on Phase One have now commenced and early works on Phase 2a have now also commenced. For details please visit HS2 Ltd.’s Commonplace website for Staffordshire.

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