HS2 and how it will affect youPublished on: 1st May 2014
Robert Brown, Partner, talks about HS2 and has a look at opinions for and against the scheme.
What is HS2?
So what is HS2? HS2 is the abbreviation for High Speed Rail 2. The HS2 project has 2 phases; Phase 1 and Phase 2. It will predominately travel from London Euston to a range of stops en route including Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds New Lane and Newcastle. The trains will travel at speeds of up to 250mph and this would be the fastest available in Europe.
What is good for some…?
The HS2 line has been met with both praise and criticism already for a variety of reasons from political, to economical to environmental. This is an extremely large project for the country so it is going to be almost impossible to keep everyone in agreement as what can be beneficial for some can be potentially devastating to others.
The phase 1 line will be between London and the West Midlands and has now completed consultation. This will still need to go through Parliament before construction on the project can begin but in terms of planning Phase 1 the Government have already given the initial go-ahead.
Phase 2 of the project is still in the consultation stages and is still seeking views on the project. This is where the line takes on the form of a Y-shape so to speak and will connect the West Midlands to further up the country to Manchester, Leeds and even further on.
According to the official HS2 site the current estimate for Phase 2 of this project is £21.2bn. An update for the economic case for Phase 2 of the project is expected to be published later on this year.
HS2 had an initial predicted budget of £33bn but the most recent predicted cost is over £10bn more than the original estimate to £42.6bn. Phase 1 is now set at £21.4bn. This was used as an absolute maximum; however, given that it has already gone up it could possibly go up again.
In terms of jobs, it is predicted that the HS2 line development will bring a much needed boost to industrial sectors. Phase 1 has the plan to create 9,000 construction jobs, 1,500 permanent jobs and 30,000 jobs in station redevelopment areas.
In terms of Phase 2 it is planned to create 48,700-70,300 jobs and produce 5,200-7,600 houses. It’s also given that there will be 10,000 jobs in construction and 1,400 operation and maintenance jobs.
Wildlife issues and other environmental concerns
Wildlife is something that many others are becoming increasingly concerned with as this will be affected by the proposed HS2 line. In this study here from the independent it brings up some really interesting points in regards to the rail line threatening 350 unique habitats, 50 irreplaceable ancient woods, 30 river corridors, 24 special scientific interests and hundreds of other important areas.
There are currently 14 wildlife trusts that have raised concerns about the HS2 line according to the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. They also bring up some issues in regards to visual impact on the environment and claim the following points:
- It will not fit well with urban environments
- Creates an unnatural alignment, cutting through hills and rising and falling, rather than curving around higher ground as do normal roads and railways
- It will be dominated by overhead electrification, masts, wires, and supports, which when viewed along the line or at an angle would create a visual blot that could be as bad as the lighting columns along a lit motorway
- Be accompanied by maintenance facilities, including roads alongside
- Be studded with frequent cabins, electrical feed stations, and access tracks to these from local roads, more than on current electrified lines.
- European Protected Species.
Some of the other concerns that have come up in terms of wildlife and nature are those of European Protected Species. These are animals such as the otter, great crested newt, and several species of bats. These are considered to be in the impact zone of the project and wildlife preservers think that this could have a negative effect on these species.
People who are for the project and people who are against
As with any large project there will often be people for the project and people against. This is because what can benefit one may not benefit another. There are a few different things that we need to take into consideration.
Green activists seem to be fairly against the project as they cannot see the benefit, however in terms of business and development there is a completely different picture painted.
In terms of business meetings this could reduce time imminently between cities, and meets between cities such as London and Leeds could be travelled in under two hours. It is believed that this is the biggest infrastructure that will ever happen within the current generation’s lifetime.
The HS2 line is still getting a mixture of positive and negative review, some calling it a white elephant whilst others saying that there is a good case for going ahead with the project. I think it’s fair to say whilst researching both that there is for and against arguments.
Influential people for and against the line
We wanted to get informed and balanced views both for and against so we spoke to both those in favour of the line, and those who are opposed too.
Christian Wolmar who is against the HS2 line says that;
Do you reject the plans for HS2 completely or do you just want it to be reviewed?
I think there could be a better project with a different route; 400km seems too fast for such a small country. A route alongside the M1 corridor would be much better and cause less disruption. It seems like this is the wrong design.
George Burda from Colton against Hs2 says;
Any scheme worthy of the environmental sacrifices required must have more than vapid rhetoric to shore up its case. Two examples of many over statements in the HS2 business case include a passenger forecast 30% higher in total than a more extensive and mature TGV network and a claim that the line will run 16 trains an hour when the maximum achieved anywhere (with difficulty) is 12 on one line in Japan. Yet despite the benefit of such disingenuous inclusions, it still fails to hit the required numbers.
We asked Paul Bigland is who is for the line what he thought the viable alternatives were;
Realistically? None. We need to learn lessons from abroad where countries have rebuilt their existing rail systems to incorporate High Speed rail. They have done so because of the economic, environmental and transport benefits. We cannot keep building more motorways and we cannot keep upgrading our existing rail network and expect to compete with other countries who are building modern transport systems. We need to move people from more polluting methods of transport to greener ones and high speed rail is a fundamental part of that.
Rolfe Pearce from Haywoods local voice had this to say in regards to the HS2 line;
I genuinely believe that the changes that HS2 will bring bear no resemblance to the claims of the government at the moment, this is nothing to do with business trips and time savings to London and the EU, it is everything to do with the development of new towns and the development of existing communities along the route to cope with the massive demand of housing and growing populations. What better way to open up the development of the UK green belt than drive a massive high speed railway through the middle of some of the best pristine farmland and countryside to be seen anywhere.
When asked if we need more rail capacity in the UK Nick Kingsley, Senior editor of the Railway Gazette had this to say;
Unequivocally yes. Rail capacity, like air capacity, is defined by the ability of the network to handle more vehicle movements. That capacity no longer exists for rail services to be introduced between London, Blackpool, Shrewsbury etc, which is comparable to issues facing London Heathrow airport with its shortage of landing slots. More than £10bn has been spent on refurbishing the London to Glasgow West Coast Main Line in the past 15 years, yet much of the capacity gains this programme anticipated have proved illusory. Particularly damaging are the cuts to local trains and station closures which have been made to accommodate more fast trains to London. The existing rail network has become more London-centric in the past decade as more high-yield long-distance trains have been introduced, but this has come at the expense of intermediate towns and smaller cities. HS2 is an opportunity to move a sizeable proportion of inter-city traffic to dedicated infrastructure, liberating the conventional network. However this is not a simple or straightforward process and reallocating the capacity released by HS2 is one of the biggest tasks facing rail network planners.
- Time reductions (in hours: minutes)
- London to Birmingham 1:24 will be reduced to 0:49
- Birmingham to Manchester 1:28 will be reduced to 0:41
- London to Nottingham 1:44 will be reduced to 1:08
- London to Manchester 2:08 will be reduced to 1:08
- London to Leeds 2:12 will be reduced to 1:22
- Reading to Manchester 3:10 will be reduced to 1:46
- Southampton to Leeds 4:17 will be reduced to 3:35
- London to Edinburgh 4:23 will be reduced to 3:38