Our Challenges

The HSUK Challenge to HS2 Ltd

If you’re going to spend £56 billion (at the very least!!) on a national high speed rail system, you wouldn’t want any high speed rail system.  You’d want the best high speed rail system, delivering the greatest possible gains in connectivity and capacity, and the greatest possible reductions in journey times, for the least cost and environmental impact.

This is exactly what the Government is expecting from the HS2 project.  After all, HS2 Ltd Technical Director Andrew McNaughton has declared that HS2’s objective is “to deliver hugely enhanced capacity and connectivity between our major conurbations.”

But there’s an inconvenient truth.  HS2 won’t deliver.  It can’t.  Whilst designing HS2 to be the fastest railway in the world, Mr McNaughton and all of HS2 Ltd’s other highly-paid experts have forgotten to ensure that HS2 works efficiently as a national network, in harmony with the rest of the railway system.  If HS2 doesn’t perform well as a network, interlinking the UK’s major conurbations, it cannot deliver its objective of “hugely enhanced capacity and connectivity”.

Our analysis shows clearly that HS2 fails every conceivable test as a national network – and in every test, HS2 is massively outperformed by our own High Speed UK proposals.  This analysis is set out in our reports HS2 – High Speed to Failure and HS2 – High Speed to Nowhere.  Our challenge to HS2 Ltd – and to the Government – is to prove us wrong.  If they cannot, it is their public and professional duty to abandon the HS2 scheme before more public money is squandered, and before more damage is done.

We’ve set out 16 challenges on the key issues of connectivity, capacity, journey time and all the other indicators which demonstrate whether or not a railway network is performing well.  To meet this challenge, HS2 Ltd must demonstrate:

  • that HS2 does perform well against the challenge.
  • that HS2 performs better than our High Speed UK alternative.

We believe that HS2 fails every aspect of the HSUK challenge, and we have the evidence to prove it.  Click on each challenge to read the HSUK case against HS2.  It’s now up to HS2 Ltd to refute our claims, and to put forward an alternative narrative.

1. The Connectivity Challenge: Does HS2 offer the comprehensive direct high speed links between UK cities necessary to stimulate regional economies?

2. The Capacity Challenge: Does HS2 provide sufficient capacity to meet the project’s aim for “hugely enhanced… connectivity”?

3. The High Speed Station Challenge: Does HS2 offer high quality station solutions for UK regional cities to allow full integration between local and high speed services?

4. The Network Design Challenge: Has HS2 Ltd made any structured attempt to design an integrated national network to optimise connectivity between the UK’s many regional cities?

5. The Journey Time Challenge: Has HS2 Ltd developed a timetable to describe how the UK rail network will operate, and what journey time reductions it will offer, with HS2 in place?

6. The Heathrow Challenge: Has HS2 Ltd developed viable proposals that will allow direct services from UK regional cities to Heathrow, and thus reduce pressure to expand the airport?

7The Cost Challenge: Is HS2 the most cost-effective way of delivering the project’s objective of “hugely enhanced capacity and connectivity”?

8. The European Challenge: Has HS2 Ltd developed viable proposals for a link to HS1 to enable direct services from UK regional cities to European cities?

9. The Freight Challenge: Has HS2 Ltd developed proposals that optimise capacity for freight on the existing rail network?

10. The Chilterns Challenge: Can HS2 Ltd justify its controversial route through the Chiltern AONB, when the nearby M1 corridor offers an alternative, far less damaging route?

11. The Euston Challenge: Can HS2 Ltd justify its destructive and dangerous proposals to expand Euston, and cause 20 years of disruption?

12. The Midlands Challenge: Can HS2 fire up the Midlands Engine when it serves only 3 Midlands stations and provides no direct links between Midlands cities?

13. The Northern Powerhouse Challenge: Does HS2 promote or prevent development of efficient links between the major cities of the Northern Powerhouse?

14. The Scottish Challenge: Is there a feasible HS2 high speed route to Scotland, and can it efficiently serve all major Scottish cities?

15. The CO2 Challenge: Will HS2 deliver transport CO2 reductions in line with the 80% reduction target of the 2008 Climate Change Act?

16. The Due Process Challenge: It’s hard to see how all the ‘HS2 process’ of remit development, option sifting and public consultation has served any purpose other than rubber-stamping the deeply flawed concept that HS2 Ltd’s ‘experts’ first thought of.  

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