Today the UK government will give HS2 the go-ahead. Having weighed up the pros and cons of the infrastructure project, the rail line connecting London to the north of England via Birmingham.Last year the British prime minister ordered a review of the project due to fears of rising costs.
Railway-News welcomes the government decision as HS2 is absolutely vital for increasing capacity across the UK rail network. By removing fast, through services from the West Coast Main Line, the East Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line, these lines will be able to greatly increase the number of regional services, while HS2 will take on all the fast trains and improve journey times between major UK cities. The Department for Transport estimates HS2 will offer nearly 15,000 seats per hour between London and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. That’s three times more than currently exist.
HS2 is to be built in 2 stages, with the detailed design and planning on Phase 1 fully complete. It is, as it were, ‘shovel ready’. Phase 1 will connect London Euston with Birmingham. Phase 2 is broken down into two branches, an eastern branch from Birmingham to Manchester, and a western branch up to Leeds. According to the BBC, the government wants to commission a separate review into Phase 2.
The British Chamber of Commerce has voiced its support for HS2.
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General, BCC, said:
“The decision to proceed with HS2 was a long time coming – so it’s great news for businesses, investment and growth in many parts of the UK.
“It's time to stop debating and start delivering the new capacity and connections that HS2 will bring to our communities and businesses.
“While progress on the first phase of HS2 will be celebrated, the government’s decision to review parts of the route beyond Birmingham will unsettle business communities in the Midlands and the North. The case for many of the transformative transport, regeneration and investment projects planned in the North and Midlands depends on the full project going ahead.
“Business communities will continue to campaign for delivery of the full HS2 route. If ministers want to achieve their aim to ‘level up’, they must not let down some of the areas that have given HS2 their full-throated support.”
It is particularly disappointing to see the Green Party to continue its opposition to a rail project – the most environmentally friendly transport mode.
Jonathan Bartley, Green Party, said:
“Today's decision by Boris Johnson proves once again he will choose vanity projects over common sense. [...] We need projects that favour regional connectivity and help local people in their daily lives. We need to invest in new rail connections that remove bottlenecks, increase rail freight capacity, improve journey times and frequencies, enhance capacity in the South West, Midlands and North and join up currently unconnected urban areas.”
Railway-News is of the view that HS2 does exactly these things. Furthermore, the Green Party have not provided a detailed, costed alternative that would achieve these things. Boris Johnson does like a vanity project, particularly when it comes to bridges, it seems, but this isn’t one of them. The initial proposal for HS2 came in 2009 under the Labour government.