HS2 will not be a ‘rich man’s railway’

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HS2 will not be a “rich man’s business class railway”, according to the boss of the firm developing the project.

Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, said the ticketing structure will ensure trains can be used by “all working people”.

The level of HS2 fares and whether trains will have first class compartments has not been decided.

The Government-commissioned Oakervee Review warned in 2018 that HS2’s final bill could reach £106 billion at 2019 prices.

During a virtual appearance at the National Rail Recovery Conference, Mr Thurston insisted that it “needs to be an affordable railway” so it becomes “an integral part of the rail network”.

He said: “The whole premise of HS2 is that this is very much something that people can afford, it gets them from A to B.

“It’s certainly not a rich man’s business class railway.”

He went on: “If you travel on the high-speed system in China, those trains are packed and they are what you would call very good quality standard class seats with catering.

“So the offering expected to be for HS2 is that it’s very much for all working people to get across the country.”

HS2 is scheduled to open between 2029 and 2033.

The first trains will run on new high-speed lines between London and Crewe via Birmingham, before joining the existing network to create direct services to locations such as Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow.

Services will be operated by the West Coast Partnership, which currently runs services on the West Coast Main Line under the Avanti West Coast brand.

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