High Speed Two

High Speed Two is the government's project for a new high speed rail line.

Description of the scheme

High Speed Two (HS2) is a high speed rail network which will connect major cities in Britain. Phase One of HS2 will provide a dedicated high speed rail service between London and the West Midlands and is expected to be open by 2026. In addition, a route for part of Phase Two, from the West Midlands to Crewe, has been announced. That section is planned to be open by 2027, with initial construction expected to start in 2020, if Parliament approves the plans.

The rest of Phase Two, towards Manchester and Leeds, will be considered by Parliament separately and is planned to be open by 2033. The new high speed railway will integrate with the existing railway network, including the West Coast and East Coast Mainlines.

The proposed route of Phase One passes through Northamptonshire for a distance of 20.7km. Further details of the route are available on the interactive map section of the HS2 website.

How and when will High Speed Two be built?

The HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill received Royal Assent on 23 February 2017, which means that work can now start on building the railway from London to the West Midlands. The Act is available to view on The National Archives website.

High Speed Two Limited and their contractors will be responsible for building the railway. Before the main civil engineering works start, there will be a significant amount of preparatory work that will need to happen, including ground investigation works, ecological surveys, demolition and enabling works. These works will be the first pieces of construction that people living near the route will see. The advance works in Northamptonshire will be delivered by Fusion JV (Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd, BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrorvial Agroman (UK) Limited) and have already commenced.

A joint venture called EK JV (Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd) was appointed in July 2017 to design and build the main civil engineering works in Northamptonshire. EK JV are currently undertaking design work with a view to commencing main works construction by the end of 2019.

Once the civil engineering work is nearly completed, separate specialist contractors will begin work on laying the track and installing related infrastructure such as electrification and signalling and finally there will be a period of testing before the first trains run in 2026. 

For further details of what is happening in Northamptonshire please look at the HS2 in Northants website.

Any queries or complaints relating to construction should be directed to the HS2 helpdesk. Contact details for the HS2 helpdesk are available on the HS2 website.

What role does the county council have?

The permission granted by the Act for the construction of the railway is subject to a number of conditions requiring the Nominated Undertaker (High Speed Two Limited) to obtain the consent of approval of Local Planning Authorities along the route for certain matters.

As a qualifying authority for the purposes of Schedule 17 to the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Act 2017 the County Council opted for a wider range of controls and is responsible for issuing consents and approvals in relation to highways, borrow pits and waste and spoil disposal, which may be refused or conditioned based on limited grounds.

We sit on the HS2 Planning Forum and its associated highway and heritage sub-groups which are independently chaired and attended by local authorities along the route. Minutes and documents from the Planning Forum can be found on the HS2 Phase One Planning Forum pages.

Since the Phase One announcement we have worked with local residents, other local authorities along the route and High Speed Two Limited. In May 2014 the County Council submitted a petition to parliament outlining our concerns about the HS2 project. The full petition can be downloaded below:

In January 2015, following negotiations with HS2 Ltd, a set of assurances in relation to the concerns we raised in the County Council petition were agreed. The assurance letter can be downloaded below:

We will continue to engage with local residents, High Speed Two Limited and their contractors as well as adjoining local authorities to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved for Northamptonshire and that the impacts of construction are minimised as far as possible.