Repeal the 2013 and 2017 HS2 Hybrid Bills halting all HS2 works immediately.

The project being currently constructed does not fulfil the basis upon which the 2013 and 2017 Hybrid Bills were voted on and passed in particular on cost. Fundamental changes (e.g. speed and passenger numbers) deviate too far from what was approved.

Top 50 Constituencies by Number of Signatures

7,875 signatures - 32.0% of total

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Government Response

The Government has decided that HS2 must go ahead to deliver essential North-South connectivity, greater capacity and shorter journey times alongside a revolution in local transport.

As the Prime Minister announced on 11 February, the Government has decided that HS2 will go ahead, alongside a revolution in local transport. With the right reforms in place, HS2 will become the spine of the country’s transport network, bringing our biggest cities closer together, boosting productivity and rebalancing opportunity fairly across the country.

The Government’s decision to proceed follows careful consideration of Douglas Oakervee’s independent review into HS2, and wider evidence including the imminent Phase One full business case, environmental concerns, as well as a range of other views. This review was tasked with testing all the existing evidence on the project and considering, among other things: “how and whether to proceed” with HS2; its benefits and impacts; affordability and efficiency; deliverability; and strategic alternatives. The project has therefore only recently been subject to a fundamental review.

The Department understands the concerns raised by the public however, successive governments have affirmed their goal to invest in transport infrastructure to meet growing demand for north-south movement and to strategically rebalance the economy. Both the 2013 Paving Act (which was not a hybrid Bill) and the 2017 Phase One Act received strong cross-party support. This was particularly so in terms of the majorities that voted for the legislation. This continues to be the case for the Phase 2a hybrid Bill as it makes its way through Parliament. Only Parliament can repeal these Acts, and the recent High Court judgment in the case of Chris Packham CBE v Secretary of State for Transport, Prime Minister and HS2 Ltd, the court specifically noted that “there is a strong public interest in ensuring that, in a democracy, activities sanctioned by Parliament are not stopped by individuals merely because they do not personally agree with them.”

It is also important to note that the Phase One Act sets out the specific requirements of the railway to be constructed, and the environmental minimum requirements that construction activities must comply with. HS2 Ltd cannot deviate from these specifications and requirements without new powers being sought from Parliament. An array of legally binding ‘Undertakings and Assurances’ made to organisations and individuals along the route, and effective monitoring arrangements to ensure HS2 Ltd compliance, mean that HS2 Ltd will deliver the railway as specified by Parliament and also construct it in the way specified by Parliament.

In setting out the decision to proceed with HS2, the Prime Minister made a clear commitment to drawing a line under past problems of transparency and cost control on HS2, and a recognition that going forward, things must change. The Department is improving discipline and oversight with a full-time dedicated HS2 minister who will take part in monthly cross-government meetings, similar to the delivery of the 2012 Olympics, and provide regular updates to Parliament on progress.

The Department has now published its Full Business Case for Phase One, which underpins the decision to authorise ‘Notice to Proceed’ and allow construction of Phase One to commence. The Phase One Full Business Case sets out the rationale for the first part of the HS2 scheme between the West Midlands and London. It can be found on the following link.

Despite Doug Oakervee’s recommendation of reducing the frequency assumption for HS2 to 14tph, the Government has maintained its existing service planning assumption (in the Business Case) of 17tph concluding that there are benefits of running a high-frequency service as it affords the Government the flexibility to serve more destinations in the future supporting the Government’s agenda to level-up regional economies. In any event, precise service patterns and speeds were not specified in the Phase One Act and are a matter for the service operator once HS2 is operational.

HS2 will spread prosperity and productivity across the whole country, bringing our great cities closer together and forming the spine of our nation’s transport network. The upcoming business case will show that these benefits continue to outweigh the project’s costs.

Department for Transport