Fares on the £50bn HS2 high-speed line must be affordable and should be “broadly comparable” to those charged on other lines, rail industry chiefs have said.
There have been concerns that premium fares will be charged for those using the new high-speed line whose first phase, from London to Birmingham, is due to open in 2026.
Passengers travelling on domestic services using HS1, the 186mph Channel Tunnel fast link, pay much higher fares than those using “conventional” Kent commuter services.
Yesterday, rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said “setting fares at the right level” was one of its five key priorities for HS2. The RDG went on: “Prices should be broadly comparable with those on other sections of the network to ensure the new services are affordable and encourage more rail travel on HS2 and across the existing railway. Tickets for HS2 should be sold through the same national retailing outlets as for the existing network.”
HS2, fiercely supported by some and bitterly opposed by others, runs through Tory heartlands in the Chilterns on its route from London to Birmingham.
Legislation for the first phase is currently going through Parliament, with a second, Y-shaped, phase, taking the line to north west and north east England due to be completed around 2032/33.
The RDG’s priority list comes ahead of a report on Monday by former London Olympics supremo Sir David Higgins, who is chairman of HS2 Ltd, the organisation developing and promoting the project.
It is thought that his report will recommend scrapping the proposed link between HS2 and HS1. This could put Sir David at odds with the RDG which yesterday listed “plugging HS2 into the existing network” as one of its priorities. The RDG added: “The new and existing railway needs to be linked seamlessly”.
The cost of the full HS2 is currently £42.6bn, with a further £7.5bn needed for the trains.
In his report on Monday, Sir David will outline possible savings, which could include £1.5bn in London alone. He is also likely to call for work to start on phase two of the project at the same time as phase one.
However, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said that the phase one legislation will not get through Parliament before next year’s general election.
Also, the exact route of phase two has yet to be determined in complete detail and will need its own separate consultation and legislation.