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HS2 - the world's best railway for Brexit Britain

Impression of HS2 route Impression of HS2 route Guardian
That was the title of the article on HS2 by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, which appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 15 November 2016...
It marked the release of information on Phase 2b of HS2, that part of the new railway from Birmingham to Crewe, cutting across Staffordshire and Cheshire. Seven changes in the route consulted on in 2014 have been identified, mainly in that part of the line intended to serve Derby-Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds. A press release published on the same day announced three contracts for enabling works for Phase 1 from London to Birmingham and the WCML at Handsacre. The cost of those is £900 millions and there is a long list of activities to be undertaken from archaeology to site clearance to establishing site compounds. The complete list is utility diversions, ecology surveys, demolition, ground remediation, watercourse activities, highways realignments, monitoring and instrumentation and drainage work. 
Staffordshire’s treasured landscape from the end of Phase 1 near Fradley to Madeley, 60 kilometres (37 miles), is safe, but only for a while. The Hybrid HS2 Bill is currently under examination in the House of Lords. It will return to the Commons for a vote by MPs, and should receive the Royal Assent by the end of 2016. Comments on the Phase 2a proposal from West Midlands to Crewe had to be sent to HS2 Ltd by 7 November. Construction of that section is due to commence in 2020 with trains running at up to 360 kilometres (225 miles) per hour from 2027. Opening from Manchester to Crewe will follow in 2033. Trains will operate from 0500 to 2400 during weekdays and 0800 to 2400 on Sundays with initially six trains per hour in each direction. The House of Lords Select Committee has been busy taking evidence, notably on fitting HS2 trains into Euston station. 
CPRE has concerns about the integration of the new line having a basic two track width of 19 metres into the Staffordshire landscape and the impact on habitats and species, especially during the prolonged construction period. HS2 Ltd states that effects will be minimised ‘in various ways’ including relocation and habitat replacement. Nevertheless
55 miles of hedgerows will have to be removed. Tree and woodland planting, hedgerow replacement and restoration, and replacement of ponds do form part of the scheme. Agricultural land and some residential properties will be lost, while groundwater abstraction near Stone could be adversely affected. The construction works will inevitably inconvenience local residents. Of more immediate concern is the proposal by HS2 Ltd to build a construction facility west of Stone between the WCML and M6. Part of the site would be illuminated. Disturbance there could be immense and long lasting. 
Concern has also been expressed about the carbon footprint when the UK is failing to meet its 2050 emissions reduction target as well as the interim 2025 decarbonisation objective. Transport is the largest offending sector and emissions have increased for the past two years. HS2 is said to provide low carbon long distance journeys supported by low carbon energy. Yet it may generate more short distance vehicle movements. 
Roy Hill is the new interim Chief Executive Officer of HS2 Ltd. 
The address of HS2 Ltd is One Canada Square, 2 Canary Wharf, London E14 5AB. 
The GOV.UK website has an information page dedicated to Phase 2: West Midlands to Leek & Manchester, at:
which provides outcomes to previous consultations, maps and fact sheets for specific areas e.g. Fradley to Great Haywood, Great Haywood to Swynnerton, Swynnerton to Madeley etc. 

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