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HS2 will form the heart of a re-shaped railway

28 January 2013

The Government's announcement on the proposed HS2 Phase 2 route is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide much needed extra capacity on Britain’s busiest rail lines and help boost economic growth through better connections between our biggest cities.


“A new high speed network is as essential to Britain’s prosperity as it is to the railway. The railways don’t just move people and freight; they create jobs, connect economic centres and open up new markets.

Unprecedented growth in the last ten years has seen passenger journeys grow by 50 per cent to almost 1.5bn a year and that number is set to continue to grow. More people use the railways today than at any time since the Second World War, on a network half the size it was then.”

David Higgins, chief executive, Network Rail 

We are already delivering the biggest capacity improvement programme since the Victorian era. Without HS2 the West Coast Main Line – our busiest and most economically important line – will be full in a little over a decade. This is a rare chance to stop playing catch-up on capacity.

HS2 can transform long distance travel, improve daily commutes on existing lines and create space on the network for passengers and freight to transfer from congested roads to an expanded railway.

HS2 will be at the heart of a reshaped rail network in Britain. To spread the benefits of HS2 to as many people as possible, we will need seamless integration. We are already planning how HS2 will integrate with the existing railway, supporting development of plans that will keep as many trains running during construction as possible and planning future train services that make best use of the capacity on both high speed and existing lines.

Read more about HS2.

Fact file

Britain currently has only one high speed railway line - HS1 - among the world's most reliable railways, and covers 113km from London to Kent and the Channel Tunnel. This compares with:

  • Spain: 2,144km, with a further 1,679km under construction
  • France: 2,036km, with a further 70km under construction
  • Germany: 1285km, with a further 378km under construction

China has more than 9,000km of high speed railway, with thousands more kms under construction.