HS2 progress welcome – now for the details

Rail Freight Group (RFG) welcomed the news of continued progress on HS2 but cautioned that many details must be resolved before rail freight can truly benefit from the project.

The announcement of the main civil engineering contracts for Phase 1 is good news for train operators and suppliers where rail freight has been included as part of the construction logistics.  This will provide much needed certainty and enable development of detailed plans, including the supply of rail equipment.

Elsewhere, the announcement of the Hybrid Bill for Phase 2A is welcomed as an essential part of the project, as is the route confirmation for Phase 2B.

However important details remain outstanding in particular relating to the operation of the West Coast Main Line after the start of HS2 services.  This includes the allocation of released capacity, infrastructure constraints on the northern sections, design issues around Crewe and questions over traction requirements.  These are fundamental points, and may require additional investment prior to 2026 if the project is to be successful for all network users.  Similar considerations are also likely for Phase 2B.

Maggie Simpson RFG Executive Director said: “It is good to see this progress on HS2, but we need real solutions to the detailed issues which are frustrating the delivery of rail freight benefits.  Action in the coming months to tackle these areas will help to cement this vital project and must now be a priority for Government.”