High Speed 2 and Scotland
In Far North Express 59 , we outlined the indicative train services that might operate to Scotland after HS2 opens. High-speed trains would operate from London and Birmingham to Edinburgh and Glasgow via HS2, joining the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre, Staffordshire in phase 1 and at Crewe, Cheshire and Bamfurlong, Greater Manchester in phase 2. There would also be a connection to the East Coast Main Line south of York. A major reordering of services would then take place on the three main lines from London to the Midlands and the North - West Coast from Euston, Midland from St. Pancras and East Coast from King's Cross - to give more frequent services at those stations which are currently missed out by faster trains both to and from London and stations to their north. We had observed that there would be a number of changes to East Coast and CrossCountry services via the East Coast Main Line to and from Scotland. These were that East Coast would no longer run any trains beyond Edinburgh to Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness and that CrossCountry's 125 mph trains from Yorkshire and south thereof would terminate at Newcastle to be replaced by TransPennine Express services running at 100/110 mph as far as Edinburgh but not to Glasgow. Rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier, though, is proposing a new Aventra Electric Multiple Unit which could operate at 125 mph that might be suitable for extended Trans-Pennine Expresses.
At the end of October, 2013, the Westminster Department for Transport's (DfT) wholly-owned subsidiary High Speed 2 Limited (HS2 Ltd) published a number of documents including an updated Strategic Case for HS2. Paragraph 60 reads:
"One of the key aims for future service patterns is that all towns or cities which currently have a direct service to London will retain broadly comparable or better services once HS2 is completed."This is, of course, at variance with the previous proposals and we will keep a close eye on whether it gets altered again. It does not "save" regular through trains between Glasgow and the north-east of England that was the original purpose of electrification between Edinburgh and Carstairs in the early 1990s. Those services were originally worked by InterCity East Coast and are now operated by CrossCountry.
On 31st October, a vote in the House of Commons authorised funding for surveys and compensation pay-outs for HS2 phase 1 between London and Birmingham/Handsacre. The following day, the UK government began a new study to look at increasing the benefits of HS2 in Scotland and northern England. This could include joining up HS2 with the proposed Scottish High-Speed line we also reported on in FNE 59. In December, the DfT announced that it was asking the new Chairman of HS2 Ltd, Sir David Higgins, to look at bringing forward construction so that both phases 1 and 2 might be built at the same time. Currently, phase 1 is planned to be completed in 2026 and phase 2 in 2032-3. On Monday, 25th November, 2013, the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill 2013-14 was given its First Reading in the House of Commons.