Extra tunnels seal UK high speed rail approval Jan 2012
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
The UK Government has given the go-ahead for the 250 miles/hour High Speed-2 project, at £32 billion the country's biggest ever infrastructure project.

HS2 Phase 1 gets go-ahead

Details of Phase 1 (London-Birmingham) published yesterday (January 10) reveal that 22.5 miles of the 140-mile route will be tunnelled. That is eight miles more of tunnelling than shown on the original route that the Government consulted on in July last year, and represents an attempt to pacify what is expected to be fierce local opposition along the length of the corridor.
The package of alterations announced by UK Transport Minister Justine Greening include a longer continuous tunnel from Little Missenden in Buckinghamshire all the way through to the M25. This section will now become a continuous 13.2km twin bore 8.7m diameter tunnel instead of two separate tunnels of 9.5km and 1.3km that on the initial alignment were separated by a 2.4km cutting through an area of natural beauty in the Chilterns.
The Government had delayed yesterday's announcement from December last year while it tried to take in fierce objections, especially in the Chilterns. The Government conceded: "HS2 runs through 13 miles of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but fresh mitigation measures announced today [January 10, 2012] mean that less than two miles will be at or above surface level."
Other amendments that have been incorporated include:
• A new 2.75 mile (4.4km) bored tunnel along the Northolt corridor to avoid major works to the Chilterns Line and environmental impacts in the Ruislip area
• A longer tunnel past Chipping Warden and Aston Le Walls
• A longer tunnel to reduce impacts around Wendover, plus an extension to a tunnel at South Heath.

HS2 connections with existing rail lines

HS2's London terminus will be a rebuilt Euston Station, and a new Birmingham City Centre station will be the finishing point of Phase 1. A direct link to HS1 (which links the UK to the Channel Tunnel and Europe) will be provided via a tunnel from the all-new Old Oak Common Station to the existing HS1 line east of St Pancras Station line. Trains not needing a direct non-stopping connection with HS1 will run on a separate Old Oak Common-St Pancras link.
Old Oak Common Station, being built as part of the separate £14.5 billion Crossrail scheme linking Maidenhead to the west of London and Abbey Wood to the east, via a new 116km line across and under central London, will provide HS2 with an interchange point with Crossrail. Heathrow Airport will not have a direct link during Phase 1 of HS2, but one will be built during Phase 2, according to the Government.
According to today's announcement Phase 1 of HS2 will be completed by 2026. A second phase of construction, which will see the line split into a "Y" shape with two more high-speed lines linking Birmingham to Leeds and Birmingham to Manchester, is timetabled to be complete by 2033. A preferred alignment for Phase 2 will go out for public consultation in early 2014, with a final route being selected by the end of that year. Design consultant Arup planned the alignments for Phase 1, and HS2 Ltd, the company charged by the Government with delivering HS2, is currently carrying out detailed planning work for route options for Phase 2 - which includes stations in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire as well as a spur link to Heathrow Airport.

High speed trains will be 400m long and carry 1,100 passengers

HS2 will see train times between London and Birmingham slashed from the current 84 minutes to just 45 minutes. The Government says the new link will increase rail capacity between the two cities by up to 26,000 seats per hour, and help relieve motorway congestion on the M1 and M6 as well as relieving pressure on current train services. The trains themselves will be 400m long, and accommodate up to 1,100 passengers.
Transport Minister Justine Greening said: "This is not a decision I have taken lightly or without great consideration of the impact on those affected by the route.
I took more time to make this decision in order to find additional mitigation that now means that more than half the entire 140-mile line [Phase 1] will be out of sight in tunnels or cuttings. I am certain this strikes the right balance between the reasonable concerns of people living on or near the line, who will be offered generous compensation packages, and the need to keep Britain moving."
A public consultation process on the controversial route ended in July last year (2011), and the Government now intends to take the final approval process of Phase 1 of the project (London-Birmingham) through Parliament by October 2013, with construction scheduled to start in 2017.

New alignment sees two tunnels in the Chilterns joined to create a continuous tunnel of 13.2km

In November the Government started the process of finding a development partner for HS2 when it announced that four design consultants are on the shortlist for a £50-70 million management services contract to develop the scheme ready to take the approval process through Parliament. On that list are: Turner & Townsend, Mace, CH2M-Hill and Parsons Brinckerhoff.
The result of a £160-200 million civil engineering and structural design services contract, for which prequalifiers have already submitted proposals, is expected to be announced once the winning management services team has reported its environmental assessment findings.
UK reconsiders High-Speed 2 tunnel alignment - TunnelTalk, December 2011
High speed rail pitch for the UK - TunnelTalk, August 2009
Design partnership for UK High-Speed 2 - TunnelTalk, August 2011
Herrenknecht begins roll out of Crossrail orders - TunnelTalk, December 2011
UK rail from the Channel Tunnel and beyond - TunnelTalk, December 2010

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