This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the second reading in the House of Lords of the High Speed Rail (West Midlands–Crewe) Bill on 4 September 2019.
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The High Speed Rail (West Midlands–Crewe) Bill would provide approval for phase 2a of the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway line. Phase 2a would run between the West Midlands, where it would link with phase 1 of HS2, and Crewe. It has a target completion date of 2027 and it is estimated it will cost £3.5 billion. The legislation granting the powers to construct phase 1 was granted royal assent in 2017.
The Government has said that HS2 and phase 2a will provide greater rail capacity and faster journey times, and boost economic growth across the whole country.
The bill would provide for all necessary aspects of building the line. These include planning provisions, powers for compulsory purchase and use of land, compensation arrangements and the disapplication of existing controls. The bill also contains detailed maps, plans and descriptions of the route.
The bill is a hybrid bill, meaning that it has characteristics of both a public bill and a private bill. It has additional stages compared to a public bill, which provide opportunities for the public to comment on it and petition against it.
The bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 17 July 2017 and completed its Commons stages on 15 July 2019. Some changes were made to the route following the public consultations, but no amendments were made during the public bill stages in the Commons. The bill is due to receive its second reading in the House of Lords on 4 September 2019.
Issues that have been raised about HS2 and phase 2a in particular include:
- The internal controls and culture of HS2 Limited, the company responsible for delivering the project.
- Whether the economic case for HS2 is convincing.
- The overall budget for HS2 which, at £55.7 billion, has not changed since 2013. However, both the Prime Minister and the chair of HS2 Limited have been reported as saying that it may increase.
- Whether the schemes to compensate people affected by the route are adequate.
On 21 August 2019, the Government announced details of a review into all aspects of HS2 to provide advice on “whether and how to proceed” with the project. It is expected to report in autumn 2019.