The UK Government approved the country’s High Speed Two (HS2) rail line. Transport secretary Justine Greening announced an expansion of tunnelled sections in response to environmental concerns.

Changes will include a longer, continuous tunnel from Little Missenden to the M25 through the Chilterns, a new 4.4km bored tunnel along the Northolt Corridor to entirely avoid major works to the Chilterns Line, a longer green tunnel past Chipping Warden and Aston Le Walls (and to curve the route to avoid a cluster of heritage sites around Edgcote, and also a longer green tunnel to reduce impacts around Wendover, and an extension to the green tunnel at South Heath.

The GBP 17bn (USD 26.31bn) first phase of HS2 linking London with Birmingham could be built by 2026. It would run for approximately 160km. Later work, taking the route on to Manchester, Leeds and even Scotland would take until at least 2033 and bring the estimated cost of the project to GBP 32bn (USD 49.5bn).

The project has faced opposition. Residents of the Chiltern Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty to the northwest of London have attempted to block the scheme.

Critics of the project have also argued that overcrowding can be eased through improvements to the existing line, with longer trains and fewer first class carriages. A review of alternatives by Network Rail found that neither would provide the required capacity.

Greening said, “I have decided Britain should embark upon the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways by supporting the development and delivery of a new national high speed rail network. By following in the footsteps of the 19th century railway pioneers, the Government is signalling its commitment to providing 21st century infrastructure and connections – laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable economic growth.

“Today I have presented to Parliament a full account of my decisions titled High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future – Decisions and Next Steps. My Department has published a series of supporting documents, which set out in further detail the basis on which I have reached my decisions.”

All of the Department for Transport’s material is available at