East West Rail and HS2

In February 2017, HS2 Ltd’s Phase One Bill became an Act of Parliament, authorising the construction of the line between London and Birmingham.  The bill contains the necessary powers to accommodate both HS2 and all necessary realignments to the proposed East West Rail lines where the two routes meet in north Buckinghamshire.

The Act of Parliament has powers to use the present alignment of a section of the Claydon to Aylesbury line and pass under the Oxford to Bletchley route.  This intersection requires the current Claydon to Aylesbury line to be realigned towards the east and for the Oxford to Bletchley route to be raised in order to provide the necessary vertical clearance for the HS2 route to pass beneath it.

Steeple Claydon is also the planned location of a major construction depot, which would later become the principal Infrastructure Maintenance Depot (IMD) for HS2 South.

Near Little Kimble the HS2 alignment will pass beneath the Aylesbury to Princes Risborough branch.

The Act of Parliament includes legal powers to construct East West Rail in this area.  Should any further funding be made available  to accelerate the Western Section’s construction work, legal powers now exist to carry out the work.

Benefits of Integration

In 2015, HS2 commissioned Network Rail to conduct an integration study, reviewing the options for integration of the two projects and this study produced a report which was completed in January 2016.   This study involved a review of the requirements of each project, their current programmes, designs and construction plans and highlighted that a range of benefits existed in integrating the two schemes such as:

  • Cost savings through avoiding duplicated works
  • Construction efficiencies and reduced construction durations
  • Reduced environmental impact
  • Reduced construction impact on local communities
  • Safety benefits through integrated design and construction

Next steps

As a result of the identification of the benefits set out above and revisions to East West Rail Western Section timescales, East West Rail has revised its strategy and will no longer seek authorisation for a standalone scheme for the section of route being authorised by the HS2 Act.

The second round of East West Rail’s Western Section Phase Two Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) consultation will include information on the HS2 proposal as it will effectively form part of the overall East West Rail Western Section Phase Two scheme.

Previous Strategy

East West Rail had previously developed a standalone proposal to HS2 where its designs did not include HS2’s proposal.  This approach was adopted at a time when East West Rail needed to obtain a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) in timescales to allow delivery by March 2019.  This standalone approach would have enabled this to be done, and would have also protected East West Rail from any delays to HS2’s hybrid Bill.

Following the review carried out by Sir Peter Hendy into Network Rail’s Enhancements Portfolio, the East West Rail Western Section timescales have changed, and the project is now set for delivery in the five-year control period for rail investments (CP6) from 2019 to 24.

Further information

For any further queries on the two schemes, contact:

HS2’s General Enquiries help desk: HS2enquiries@hs2.org.uk Or East West Rail’s consultation team: EWRConsultation@networkrail.co.uk