HS2 or High Speed 2 as it’s being called is a planned high speed rail link from London to the North. The plan for the intial 1st phase is to construct a line starting at Euston Station which will then exit London and continue to Birmingham. Once near Birmingham a spur will take the line into the city centre, with the main line itself connecting to the West Coast Main Line (WCML) near Lichfield.

The following project outline is for HS2 phase one which will initially connect London to Birmingham and the WCML near to Lichfield.

The line will consist of a terminal at London Euston, a station at Old Oak Common that will allow for connections with CrossRail,Heathrow Express and the GWML, a station for Birmingham International Airport and the National Exhibition Centre and a terminal in Birmingham with its main entrance adjacent to Moor Street station, next to the Bullring. From Old Oak Common, there will also be a connection with HS1 to allow for direct services to Europe and a connection at Lichfield with the WCML to allow trains to continue to the North.

From day one HS2 will offer services from places such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. It will be able to offer these services by utilising what are being called “classic compatible” trains. They will be able to run on the ‘conventional’ WCML at standard speeds, then when they reach a junction near Lichfield they will be able to run at high speed up to 225mph to London on the dedicated high speed line. This will mean that Birmingham and cities from across the north will be able to enjoy a journey time saving of at least 20 minutes with a times from Birmingham to London slashed from 1hr 25 to 49 minutes.

If you click the following link you will be able to see what services HS2 plan to offer after the construction of the 1st phase. click >>HS2 Interactive service map

As mentioned before, the above plans are for phase one of the project which is due for completion in 2026. The plan is then to continue HS2 over two branches — with one line going to Manchester (then to rejoin the WCML near Warrington) and another line continuing to Leeds (then to rejoin the ECML near York). It is the long term goal of the government to build a high speed line that reaches from London all the way to Scotland. But this will take some time given the large scale nature of the project.

HS2 phase one will be the first step in a truly national high speed rail network connecting the North to the South and beyond to the rest of Europe.

HS2 is an exciting project which will usher in a new age of rail travel in the UK, cutting journey times in its first stage by over 20 minutes — and by much more in the second stage — to some of the UK’s biggest cities. But HS2 isn’t all about fancy new high speed trains, it is a crucial project that will secure the UK’s economic future and ensure that our transport network has the capacity to handle future passenger demand.

The WCML is the busiest mixed-traffic rail corridor in Europe and is already close to its capacity limit even after the government spent 10 years and £10bn improving the line. There is just 1 train path per hour spare on the line which can easily be absorbed by freight movements or delays in services. The more crowded a line becomes the less reliable it is. It is for this reason that government has made a decision that it simply isn’t cost effective to keep ploughing billions of pounds into the WCML to try and keep up with demand. That is why they have given the go ahead to the HS2 scheme which unusually has the backing of all 3 of the main political parties.
 

The cost

Unfortunately there is no getting away from the fact that any project of this scale will cost a great deal of money. Stage 1 of project — from London to Birmingham and Lichfield, and the link across London to HS1 — is predicted to cost from £17bn to £20bn (after including the 66% ‘optimism bias’ insisted upon by the Treasury) and includes the procurement of all the rolling stock required. This is a lot of money to be spending on a single project, there is no denying that, but the government would not be going ahead with the project unless they knew for certain that it is required and that it would provide a return to the tax payer.

The economic benefits to the UK are said to be anywhere from 1.7 to 2.6 pounds returned for every pound spent on the project. Most of the return is due to come from time savings gained from quicker service which in turn will lead to better productivity. But economic benefits will also come from other sources, such as better business connectivity for businesses in the north and jobs created directly by HS2 . For example, it will see as many as 10,000 people employed on its construction, and 8,000 permanent jobs created around the new station planned in Birmingham.

It has been suggested that currently the country cannot afford to pay up to £20bn for a new line but this ignores the fact that HS2 is a long term national infrastructure project which will be designed and built over the next 15 years. To put this into perspective the CrossRail project which has just begun, due for completion in 2019 will cost £15.9bn and will only serve London. HS2 will not as is feared suck money from current infrastructure, we know this because whilst £20bn is being spent to 2019 in London alone the government has given firm commitments to other rail schemes such as the GWML electrification to Bristol and Cardiff, the electrification of several lines in the north west which include Manchester – Blackpool, Wigan – Huyton (Liverpool) as well as Liverpool – Manchester via Chat Moss. Whilst commitments have been given to many other rail schemes also. The statement that HS2 will “suck money away” from current rail is a complete fallacy with no grounds, especially given the government commitment to massive investment in current infrastructure.

 

     “Green tunnels” (pictured right) used for the construction of HS1 to minimise it’s effects on residents and blend the line better into the landscape.Fears that HS2 will cause “massive destruction” to the local environment have been over exaggerated by many local protests groups from along the proposed route.

Sound and visual mitigation has been at the forefront of  the design for HS2 from day 1. Residents will also be rightly compensated for any subsequent loss in house value.

HS2 and the environment

A key benefit of HS2 is its ability to support the government’s policy to reduce the UK’s CO2 levels. The numbers given by the government are unclear and widely dismissed by critics. But what is clear is that electrically powered trains are more energy efficient than any form of air or road transport. A little known fact is that the new Alstom AGV which is capable of 360km/h, due to go into service on a new Italian high speed network this year, is as efficient as a first generation TGV capable of 300km/h. Even more remarkable is that the AGV will consume only a fraction more energy per seat than the current fleet of Pendolinos on the WCML which travel 100mph slower!

It may be easy for critics to dismiss numbers based on the amount of CO2 that HS2 will save but it is hard to deny that a new runway built at one of London’s airport would cause an increase in flights with extra capacity quickly being swallowed up by air operators. More flights equal a sharp rise in the amount of CO2 produced by the travelling public — not just in flights but in all the journeys to and from the airport. With HS2, however, it can be as green as the government and the public want it to be, seeing that the government is committed to producing more of our electricity from renewable low-carbon or no-carbon energy which will feed directly to HS2 to power its trains.

Other added benefits of HS2 on the environment will be a shift that it will cause from road to rail, with people that once went by car choosing to take the more comfortable and much faster HS2 service to London and between regional cities — with the freed-up capacity on the WCML being used by more, and faster, regional and commuter passenger services.

HS2 will also free up capacity on the WCML for more freight services — for which demand is already growing, not least because there is now a critical shortage of HGV drivers — meaning that more cargo can be transferred from road to rail. You only have to look at how Eddie Stobart, the UK’s largest haulier, is adopting containerised rail freight to reduce it’s own carbon footprint, carrying goods for companies such as Tesco, to see the potential benefits that transferring freight from road to rail will have. A single freight train can transport 1000 tonnes and more efficiently where as it would take at least 34 articulated HGVs to carry the same load, clogging our motorways and causing traffic which needlessly adds to the CO2 produced by the travelling public.

Transport is the biggest single emitter of carbon dioxide in the UK, responsible for 25% of all emissions. But rail accounts for only 2% of emissions, while already carrying 7% of passenger kilometres — emphasising that rail has approximately a three times energy advantage over other modes.

There is fierce opposition to HS2 from those that live along the route, with campaign groups claiming many reasons not to go ahead with the project. Despite this, YesToHS2, which is an independently run campaign with nothing to gain from it’s construction, is still firmly behind the plans to connected the north to London, thereby reducing the north south devide.

 

 High Speed 2
       Connecting the North to London…….  
     
 YesToHS2 is an independent non-governmental campaign group set up to promote High Speed Rail in the UK and the benefits both economically and environmentally that it will bring.

If you are not completely sure what HS2 (High Speed 2) is or what it will mean for the UK please see What is High Speed 2?

If you support the idea of High Speed Rail in the UK please take the time to sign the petition.

ITV Ventral POLL

HS2: Are you in favour of the Government’s proposed high-speed rail line between London and the Midlands? Click Here…. Don’t be silent supporter

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