When words were first spoken about a high-speed rail network that would connect the north to the south swiftly, most people were cheering it on. Now things seem to have changed. People are starting to doubt whether the project is still going ahead while others believe that it will happen but will cost a fortune. What is actually happening with the HS2 and what, if any, is the current progress?
What Even Is The HS2?
For anyone that hasn’t heard of the HS2, it is supposed to be Britain’s most advanced and fastest rail network. The intentions behind developing the HS2 was to create an easy and speedy way to travel from the north of the country to the south, or vice versa. It has plans to bridge together 8 of the UK’s biggest cities which will, in turn, help to connect around 30 million people. The high-speed trains are set to be the fastest running trains in Europe with speeds of up to 250mph. A project of this magnitude would be an incredible achievement for the country. However, there are several obstacles in its way.
How Would The HS2 Benefit The Country?
Like any major development, there are pros and cons to having the HS2. Looking at it in a more positive light, here’s how we can benefit from this high-speed rail network.
Game Changer For Businesses
Many businesses in the UK have several branches. It’s not uncommon for corporations to have offices in London and in the north of the country. The HS2 rail network will connect people and change how businesses operate within the UK.
Wider Choice Of Employment
Currently, non-drivers in the UK living in smaller Burroughs struggle to find employment as they have to rely on public transport. Some public transport links around the country aren’t as predictable as they should be. In turn, people find themselves unemployed because of unreliable transport or longer commute times. Even those who do drive often opt for employment that doesn’t match their qualifications because the commute is shorter. The HS2 rail network has plans to operate from 25 stations across the country. This will help a large number of people find employment further afield. Driver and non-drivers will benefit from a shorter commute.
HS2 to Create Jobs
As you can imagine, a project of this scale will involve a lot of construction and maintenance. So far, an estimated 30,000 jobs are to be created for the construction of the HS2. Approximately 3000 jobs will be available for the daily running of the network. Because the HS2 will be the most advanced form of public transport in the country, a pledge has been made to open up 2,000 apprenticeships. This will offer a fantastic opportunity for the country’s youth. It will also encourage them in pursuing careers in engineering and construction.
Focused On Communities
When talks of a large project arise, many people assume that it will impact or benefit only London. In this case, it’s almost the opposite. While there will be HS2 stations in London, around three-quarters of the jobs that the HS2 will create will be in locations outside of the capital. Again, people in communities that the rail network is due to pass through are concerned about the impact on their local communities. And rightly so. Keeping this in mind, developers have created a set of standards to ensure that these areas are protected from impacts like traffic congestion and noise pollution.
Compensating The Environment
Majority of the concern over the plans for the new high-speed rail network stems from some destruction of the natural environment. In a bid to compensate for the damage, HS2 developers have outlined a plan of action. The plan includes the replacement of any and all-natural habitats that are disrupted. Further, they also have plans to conserve and enhance any areas they can along the route.
We know that the HS2 has its pros and cons. At the cost of approximately £56 billion, are the pros actually worth this amount of money? Apparently, they are. Estimates put the value of benefits brought by the HS2 at about £92 billion. Furthermore, the rail network is set to increase tourism around the country, and revitalize local economies along with the national one.
At the moment, the HS2 rail network is due for completion by 2026. However, this could change if delays arise. Currently, the first phase of the high-speed rail network is underway in London and the West Midlands. Last month the country’s business leaders expressed their need for the HS2 to start construction on the linking of Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester.
A similar thing happened around five years ago when mention of the Northern Powerhouse first arose. With the HS2 covering such an extensive area, there are expected delays, some being certain permissions. At this moment in time, the country is in a state of ‘to be continued’. As a country, we seem to be stuck in limbo when it comes to a Brexit deal, and we are now waiting to see who is going to be the next prime minister. With all of these happening in the background it’s no surprise that people and businesses are becoming concerned with the development of the HS2 project.
Aside from all of the EU drama and the upcoming leadership announcement, the HS2 project is still continuing. There are now over 9,000 people working on the project already alongside an additional 2,000 businesses. Despite the rumours that it will be either the Northern Powerhouse or the HS2 that will actually be constructed, developers are saying that both are still going ahead. The latest comment is that the country is in need of both and the two projects will greatly benefit each other.