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HS2 and zero carbon Britain

HS2 will support the transition to a net-zero carbon UK economy.

High speed rail travel is low carbon

HS2 is a state-of-the-art, high-speed line critical for the UK’s low-carbon transport future. It will provide much-needed rail capacity across the country, and is integral to rail projects in the North and Midlands – helping rebalance the UK economy.

HS2’s long distance journeys will provide a low carbon alternative to the car or plane. HS2 will be a greener way to travel, offering some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger kilometre:

  • 7 times less than passenger cars
  • 17 less than domestic air travel.

In 2030 you could travel 500 miles on HS2 for the same amount of carbon it takes to travel around 70 miles by car and just 29 miles by plane.

As electricity generation decarbonises, HS2 journeys will become progressively low carbon. In the future, with electricity generation fully decarbonised, using HS2 will be fully zero carbon.

Find out where HS2 will go, visit our route map.

HS2’s impact means less traffic and reduced carbon emissions

Find out how HS2 will improve your journey, even if you don’t use our trains.

HS2 will improve the existing railway network by releasing capacity for local passenger and freight services. This will take hundreds of thousands of cars and lorries off our roads every year, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.

When the full HS2 network is running, our trains and the released capacity on other train lines will:

  • reduce car travel by 1.2 million miles every day.

That’s a reduction in the annual carbon emissions from car travel of over 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This annual carbon saving is equivalent to around 18 million litres of petrol not used.

Find out more about how HS2 helps reduce overcrowding.

Building HS2 and carbon

Illustration of a surveyor wearing a hard hat and looking through an instrument on a stand.

Like other construction projects, building HS2 will inevitably create emissions, but we will make sure as little carbon reaches the atmosphere as possible.

In the Government’s strategy to become zero carbon by 2050, UK emissions are part of existing carbon reduction budgets.

Building HS2 Phase One will represent just 0.15% of total UK budgeted carbon emissions over the construction period.

HS2’s annual Phase One construction carbon emissions will be equivalent to just 5% of a single year’s house building under the Government’s new housing target.

The carbon footprint of 120 years of Phase One, including construction and operation, will be less than one month’s road transport emissions (based on the latest 2017 ONS stats).

Quality assurance

HS2 Ltd have been recognised for our plans to minimise the project’s environmental impact. We were awarded an ISO 14001 certificate from Lloyd’s Register of Quality Assurance for our work in areas such as carbon emissions, air and water quality, biodiversity and waste.

Sustainability assessment

Phase One of HS2 was the first project globally to be certified under the Building Research Establishment’s BREEAM Infrastructure pilot scheme – a sustainability assessment methodology. The assessment demonstrates that we have the right policies, strategies and technical requirements in place and have integrated sustainability from the outset of the project.

Environmental statements

Illustration of a hard hat, protective google and a document case.

Extensive environmental statements are submitted as part of the process that results in Parliamentary approval for building HS2.

The High Speed Two (HS2) Phase One environmental statement was produced to accompany the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill. It includes: likely significant environmental impacts along the route, and measures to manage and reduce these impacts. Find out more about the statement for Phase One of the route. A similar assessment is also available for Phase 2a of the route.