HS2 is Britain’s new high-speed railway line that will link London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. Work on the £56 billion project began in 2017 and is due to conclude around 2032, after a period of commissioning and testing.
Boasting slashed journey times, the 250mph route will ease the current overcrowding experienced on a lot of train services and will boost regional business, narrowing the existing north/south divide.
400m-long (1,300ft) trains, with around 1,100 seats in each will run at high speed as often as 14 times per hour in each direction.
In November 2016 the government confirmed a second phase for the plan which would incorporate routes from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds. A specific HS2 train station will be built next to Manchester Piccadilly and there’s talk of a further planned route that will take passengers on to Manchester airport.
In July 2017 the government announced that the north-eastern route to Leeds would run East of Sheffield, with some trains heading into the city via newly created lines.
The Y-shaped network will eventually incorporate Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands – all of which will be connected to London.
By drastically cutting travel time, the HS2 route will open up far more opportunities for businesses and those living in the connecting cities. The current North/South divide in business will close down, with companies in the North having as much opportunity as those based in the Capital.
There is also hope that the increased seating capacity, alongside reduced travelling times will encourage more people to use the HS2 services and avoid using roads or planes which are far worse for the environment.
There is currently no indication of travel costs to use this service. However, the government has stated that its proposals "assume a fares structure in line with that of the existing railway". They hope there will be sufficient demand for the services that they won’t need to charge premium fares.
Winners and Losers
Old Oak Common in north-west London will become a 14-platform interchange station, providing fast connections to central London, the City and Heathrow airport. There are plans to create around 20,000 new jobs at this station
Northern cities reached by the new line will be better connected to each other and to the south
Commuters on the West Coast Main line. Network Rail hopes the HS2 will significantly reduce strain from overcrowding
The Chilterns, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire with historic buildings at risk of damage or demolition, and remaining residents facing noise pollution
Sixteen of 216 homes on a housing estate in Mexborough, South Yorkshire will be demolished
Parts of the Regent's Park Estate will be demolished
Those further away from the line, like Wales, won’t see any economic benefits and could lose jobs as a result
The Wildlife Trusts say the HS2 route will directly affect nature reserves and wildlife sites which could lead to a net loss in biodiversity
There were some objections to the proposal, with protestors stating that it will cut through picturesque countryside and damage vital ecosystems. However, with the government claiming that the route will create around 40,000 new jobs and, with British rail networks currently reaching full capacity, ministers were keen for the scheme to go ahead as planned.
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