HS2: All the times controversial rail project was 'given the green light' during decade of protests

·3-min read
A Siemens proposed design for a HS2 train (Picture: PA)
A Siemens-proposed design for an HS2 train (PA)

The controversial High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) project has been given yet another green light on Tuesday.

Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed the project will go ahead after years of false starts and protests.

It is the latest twist in a transport saga stretching back more than a decade, in which the government has been accused of knowing the project was over budget and behind schedule.

January 2009

The then-Labour government sets up HS2 Ltd to look at the case for building a high-speed railway line.

December 2010

The newly-installed Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition publishes a consultation on a route from London to Birmingham, with a Y-shaped section to Manchester and Leeds.

January 2012

HS2 is given its first major green light when transport secretary Justine Greening announces the government has decided to go ahead with the project, despite concerns over its cost and the environmental impact of construction.

LEAMINGTON SPA, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: HS2 workers carry fencing past a temporary camp to prevent a hedgerow being removed on the HS2 route near the village of Offchurch on January 28, 2020 in Leamington Spa, England. The Prime Minister is due to announce whether the HS2 rail project will go ahead within the next two weeks as costs for the project have more than doubled. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
HS2 workers carry fencing past a temporary camp of protesters along the route near the village of Offchurch, by Leamington Spa, last month (Getty)
An artist's impression of the proposed HS2 station at Euston, London (Picture: PA)
An artist's impression of the proposed HS2 station at London Euston (PA)

November 2013

In a major step towards approval, the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill setting out the powers needed to build phase 1 of HS2 between London and Birmingham is introduced to parliament.

January 2014

The Supreme Court rejects outstanding appeals by opponents of HS2.

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June 2016

The National Audit Office warns HS2 is under financial strain and could be delayed by a year.

February 2017

In a significant green light, the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill achieves Royal Assent, enabling preparation work to begin.

An artist's impression of a HS2 train on the Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct (Picture: PA)
An artist's impression of a HS2 train on the Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct (PA)
With an imminent decision expected from the government which will determine if the controversial transport project will continue to go ahead, construction workers continue their job on HS2 at Euston Railway Station on 30th January 2020 in London, England, United Kingdom. High Speed 2 is a high-speed railway in the United Kingdom, partly under construction. Parliament approved plans for the first section in 2017, with clearance work being undertaken for the line and stations. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Construction workers continue their job on HS2 at Euston railway station in London in January (Getty)

December 2018

Sir Terry Morgan resigns as chairman of HS2 Ltd amid criticism over his role as chairman of Crossrail, which is delayed and over budget.

August 2019

The Conservatives commission a review into whether and how HS2 should continue, led by former HS2 Ltd chairman Douglas Oakervee, with long-term critic of the project Lord Berkeley acting as his deputy.

September 2019

A report by HS2 Ltd chairman Allan Cook says the railway may not be completed until 2040, and the scheme could cost £88 billion.

January 2020

The Oakervee Review is widely leaked and finds that HS2 could cost up to £106 billion, but concludes “on balance” that the project should continue.

Meanwhile, the National Audit Office says the government “underestimated” the complexities of the project.

February 2020

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to give another green light to HS2, approving the whole line. However, the government will reportedly try to make changes to the second phase of the project involving Manchester and Leeds to save money.

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