Vox pop: Has Sir David Higgins’ HS2 Plus report saved HS2 from the doubters?
Mark Cowlard, global head of rail, EC Harris
Sir David’s ability to manage politicians is of great value, he has now pushed the ability to reduce cost firmly back at the feet of Parliament which now needs to accelerate the Royal Assent process for both phases to allow HS2 to quickly deliver the railway and to reduce overall development costs.
It’s critical for HS2 that its connections to HS1 are effective. Removing the scheme from the Bill is the right thing to do, but I fear they will push this critical element of route to the back and miss a great early connectivity opportunity.
Vance Babbage, director, B&M Babbage
I’m not convinced it has. His idea of extending the line from Birmingham to Crewe by 2027 to help complete the second phase more expediently sounds achievable, but proposing the Crewe extension is likely to require more debate by government to get HS2 through Parliament, making it even more costly.
Some people say we should approach it like the French did and build all the main elements of HS2 simultaneously, but their bludgeoning response of hammering everything through isn’t the best way, and nor is taking forever and a day debating it. A measured response that tries to get the best value for tax payers is the best solution.
We also need a specific completion date for HS2 in its entirety, rather than the current open-ended situation. The completion deadline for the London 2012 Olympics no doubt helped Higgins succeed in coordinating it. He couldn’t be late for the lighting of the Olympic torch, and nor should HS2 for the first train journey north.
Sean Jeffery, executive director for infrastructure, Kier
Yes, Sir David’s report is a strong proposal for a positive and earlier commitment to improve connectivity to the northern cities, Wales and Scotland via the Crewe hub and earlier delivery of Phase 2.
The recommendations could create better development opportunities at Euston to improve and regenerate the area and we need to bring that station on a par with its sister stations at St Pancras and King’s Cross and provide better connectivity with them.
His report provides a more sensible proposal for future connectivity opportunities with Crossrail 1 and 2 and the London Underground. It will be good for business, the construction industry, jobs and upskilling our workforce.
Mark Wakeford, managing Director, Stepnell
Sir David’s involvement in HS2 is good news for the project and I’m sure the changes he’s outlined in his report will be effective. He has the knowledge, vision and credibility in these matters to lead the project and his insight into how HS2 could benefit everyone is excellent.
Sir David is also process-driven and will put the right people and systems in place to fast-track the project and deliver it ahead of schedule. For such a large investment, I would expect to see a number of trickle-down contracts for regional contractors like Stepnell, who embrace building information modelling (BIM) and a collaborative approach to design, engineering and construction.
Chris Kane MCIOB, founding director, Greendale
I’m all for it, I think they should get on with it. That guy delivered the Olympics didn’t he, he’s the one to do it – and let no barriers get in his way.
You only have to look back at the Industrial Revolution, where what helped was transport connections, the rivers, canals and railroads. Or the Japanese bullet train that can travel at 200mph. We need to get on with it, if we’re going to stay ahead in Europe and the rest of the world, but in this country we just mess about.