The HS2 announcement this week of the £33 billion plan for HS2 phase two, from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds is welcome news indeed. But why do we have to wait until 2033 to travel on this new line?
Yes, it is only democratic – and good public relations – to consult, to debate, to involve, explain, explore reasonable alternatives and ensure that negative impact can be minimised. But given the overriding advantage for the regions, why has this process to take so long?
HS2 is long overdue. The existing west coast line is Victorian. Opening from Manchester to Birmingham then on to London in two stages in 1837 and 1838 it was never conceived as a national inter-city route. Though much improved, the core route and much of the basic infrastructure remain unchanged. This is the busiest line in the country, carrying mixed inter-city and local service passenger traffic along with an estimated 43 per cent of all the freight traffic on the network.
Transport is a vital aspect of national life and commerce. HS2 has the potential to bridge the north south divide, to spread prosperity and make northern cities – already a great quality of life option – even more attractive for inbound investment. Transport is also a substantial industry. With a depressed construction sector and UK manufacturing struggling to climb out of the recession the sooner this project can be started the better.
It is only right to respect the rights of minorities and come to a reasonable accommodation with those who lose out from the development. But this process must be finite because the potential prize is massive and penalties for delay frightening. Britain is a nation competing internationally – to waste a decade or more in wrangling about the minutia of the route will impair our future and that of generations to come. Let’s get on with it.
As a B2B, construction, engineering and tech PR company we have seen many clients benefit from major infrastructure projects over the years, including the current crossrail project. Hopefully, the same will be true of HS1 and HS2.