New proposals for the HS2 budget will result in ‘long-term congestion and increased fares’.

  • Rail experts warn that anticipated overcrowding north of Birmingham will lead to an increase in ticket prices as a means to reduce demand.
  • According to the Observer, new plans to address the rail capacity problems resulting from the cancellation of HS2’s northern legs are years away. There are concerns that passengers will need to be priced out of using the railways to tackle congestion.
  • Industry professionals assert that the decision to halt phase two of the HS2 project beyond Birmingham will have long-term consequences. One expert likened the cancellation to removing the backbone of a body, leaving it unstable.
  • Meanwhile, Network Rail has confirmed that it is undertaking a major project, in response to the cancellation, to explore solutions to avert significant congestion on the west coast mainline. Completion of this review is expected to take several years.
  • In light of the cancellation, there are serious concerns about congestion between Birmingham and Crewe. Insiders warn of potential service rationing, higher fares, and increased traffic on the M6 as a result of forced freight transportation on roads.
  • The government argues that travel patterns have changed since the pandemic, reducing the necessity for a new rail line. However, this assertion is being disputed by experts, who have observed a significant resurgence in travel demand.
  • According to Andrew McNaughton, former HS2 technical director, the government’s decision to scrap the project has essentially created a “growth reduction scheme.” Without a replacement, rationing would be necessary, and pricing people off the railway has historically been the method used to manage demand.
  • McNaughton emphasizes that HS2 was the essential solution for connecting the North and South of England, and alternative plans were all contingent on HS2 providing new capacity for the next century. Without it, congestion would persist and suffocate economic growth.
  • The Department for Transport spokesperson acknowledges the potential of high-speed rail between London Euston and Birmingham to nearly double capacity on the heavily congested section of the west coast mainline. The spokesperson also notes that industry is already exploring options to upgrade infrastructure with the £500m allocated for Network North. Additionally, redirected funding from Phase 2 cancellation will support various transportation projects throughout the country.

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