Crossrail and HS2, the train lines that when they’re built will become two of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects, have had details of delays released within days of each after reports emerged that the UK government forced through a parliamentary delay for the northern section of HS2.
The government said its decision for the two-pronged portion of line that will connect Manchester and Leeds with Birmingham wouldn’t hold up construction but was necessary to make sure that the new high-speed line would link up with the proposed overhaul of services in the North.
A key requirement of HS2’s plans is that the £56 billion high-speed line eventually connects with an improved east-west line over the Peninnes, named by some as the North of England’s Crossrail. As reported in The Times, the timetable for parliamentary approval of the northern section of HS2 is now expected in 2020.
The news comes a matter of days after Crossrail announced it would be pushing back on its plans to launch Crossrail at the end of 2018, instead beginning operations around nine months later. The reason for the delay said Crossrail is due to an extensive programme of testing that has to be carried out to ensure a “safe and reliable railway for customers” of the 73-mile east-west line. It’s believed that the signalling systems are a large factor in the delay, owing to the complexity of linking up the different systems that will be used on Crossrail and Network Rail’s overground infrastructure.
Any delays to HS2, which is being built to address the economic disparities between England’s North and South, are likely to be met with concerns from those regions and businesses that stand to benefit from it; with its arrival it’s hoped that the improved connections with airports and cities will bring prosperity to other regions of the UK and loosen the reliance on London and the South East. The nine-month delay to Crossrail is certainly seen as problematic by the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, who said the hold-up was bad for business and ultimately UK plc. “The delay means nine months of extra construction costs, nine months of lost revenues and and nine months of continued pressure on the jam-packed transport routes Crossrail was meant to ease.”
Crossrail’s chief executive, Simon Wright, said it was working around the clock to with the supply chain and Transport for London to complete the line, “one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK”.
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