In 2010 the UK government announced plans that it would be developing a new high-speed rail network, which goes from London to Birmingham and then on to Manchester and Leeds. This is also known as HS2.
Ministers have described the develop as an improvement to the UK’s transport network, which will boost the British economy. The move has been welcomed by many but it has also sparked controversy in terms of disputes over the exact route of the line and its effect on those living near or on this route.
So What Is HS2?
The first proposed plan was for a new railway line that ran between London and the West Midlands. The line would carry 400m long trains with up to 1,100 seats per train. The train would run at speeds of up to 250mph, which would be the fastest operating speed in Europe and it would run as often as 14 times per hour in each direction.
Following this first phase development, a secondary V-shaped phase would take the service on from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.
The Department for Transport when first speaking about the move, stated that there would be nearly 15,000 seats an hour on trains going between London and the other mentioned cities – A number which is 3 times the amount of the current capacity.
The BBC provided a handy map, outlining the proposed route:
What’s Involved in The Second Phase?
The second phase of the route will span from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds. The line will run through to Manchester Airport before terminating at a new HS2 station which will be built next to Manchester Piccadilly. There is also a spur at Wigan where the HS2 line will join the West Coast Mainline up to Glasgow. The eastern spur will run to Sheffield although there is still debate about whether the station will be in the City Centre or at Meadowhall.
When Will It Open and How Much Will It Cost?
Phase one is predicted to be a grand total of £56bn, which is due to open in December 2026 bar no setbacks. This will cover HS2 trains between London and Birmingham before continuing to the existing West Coast Mainline. This is a prediction that has still been heavy disputed with doubts raised about the ambitious deadline. The secondary, Manchester/Leeds instalment will look to be built and opened by 2032-33.
In June 2013, the government revised the total cost of the project. Following a review of the tunnelling on the projected route, it meant that estimates were raised due to the extra amount of work needed. This took the figure from the estimated budget from £32.7bn to £42.6bn at present values. This also had a knock-on effect of the phase one project, increasing its estimate from £16bn to £22bn.
Who Does This Benefit?
- Commuters – With train times reduced by half on certain routes, the high-speed training will be welcome news to commuters. Once more, the added seats will make for a less cramped and stress-free journey.
- The North – The new line will mean better connection to the South of England, which offers benefits for both business and pleasure.
- North West London – New rail depot will provide faster connections to central London, the city and Heathrow airport.
- Job Seekers – The move will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for the UK public.
Who Isn’t This Good For?
- Residents of Camden (north London) – people will face years of disruption during phase one.
- The countryside – Places such as Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire are at risk of damage or demolition in terms of their historical buildings, not to mention the noise pollution it will bring to those areas.
- West Coast & Wales – These places won’t economic benefits from the move and could face job reductions.
- The wildlife – both phases have been opposed from the Wildlife Trust through fears of damage to nature reserves, ecosystems and wildlife sites.
- Homeowners – Aside from noise pollution, people will be forced to relocate if their home falls on the proposed route.
What Can I Do If I’m Affected?
If you believe that you’ll be affected by the HS2 move then you are well within your rights to seek expert help. It is possible that you may be subjected to a compulsory purchase order or alternatively, you may be entitled to a form of HS2 compensation because of the change.
With disputes still circulating about the project, and details of the confirmed route still outstanding, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the matter so there is no need to panic at this point. Here at Roger Hannah, we offer continuous updates regarding all HS2 news. If you would like to get in touch with us to enquire about any of the changes and what they could mean for you, please don’t hesitate to do so.