HS2 – Do we need it?
HS2 will connect London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds to the existing Europe-wide high speed network. Nowadays, major engineering projects have as many critics as they do ravers. The Olympics for example were expected by some to be an expensive embarrassing failure, another Millennium Dome. The Olympics turned out to be a great success and a boost to both the economy, self belief and prestige of this country. Be proud Britain.
So why do we fear now undertaking another great engineering project in the HS2? Many have cited that it is a waste of money and will bring little or no benefit whilst for others the direct opposite is true. So what are the arguments:
- Extra space on crowded rail routes, more people encouraged to travel by rail which in turn will relieve congested roads.
- Increase in Freight capacity.
- Improved journeys between cities.
- Jobs and the Economy will benefit “The entire HS2 project is forecast to generate benefits of £47bn and fare revenues of up to £34bn over 60 years”
- Better passenger experience, new stations, less crowded and quicker journey times.
- Positive environmental effects as both passengers and freight move to rail.
- Route would require the demolition of 400 Houses.
- Negative impact on existing natural habitats.
- Too expensive, no business case for it.
- Damage caused to the Chilterns by proposed route.
- Existing trains could be made longer to ease current congestion.
- More and more people are working remotely, therefore the need to travel will in time reduce.
There is no doubt that on both sides of camp there are merits to these arguments, some voices will be heard and others swept aside in the name of modernisation and progress. Is it right or is it wrong to demand progress for the greater good, only time will tell. As with most things in life the proof is often in the pudding, but this is a very expensive pudding and not everyone is in the mood for desserts.