This month, the HS2 railway was given the green light. The project, which will be the largest infrastructure in Europe, was put on hold after the initial suggested budget of £30 billion increased to a staggering estimation of £81-88 billion.
Following an independent review, Boris Johnson approved the London to Birmingham line as well as the line from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester. There are also plans for a train line from Leeds to Manchester, although this will be integrated within a project called Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The second phase will integrate lines to Edinburgh and Glasgow by the end of the decade.
Boris Johnson has stated that the poor management of the project has not diminished the value of the new rail line. The cost of the first phase will range from £35-45 billion, with improved designs.
What is HS2 hoping to achieve?
The last 20 years has seen demand for rail travel double; with current and future upgrades to lines unable to deliver the same capacity that a new railway line would. Not to mention the disruption that would be caused by trying to upgrade established lines to meet demand.
High Speed 2 is not only the solution to this demand, but it also aims to deliver the following benefits:
- Free up space on existing railway lines
- Pressure relief on key bottlenecks
- Removing hundreds of thousands of lorries from the roads each year
- Reduce carbon emissions
HS2 railway and freight
In addition to the passenger benefits of HS2, the project also increases opportunities within the freight industry. The country’s leading freight operator, DB Cargo UK, understands that HS2 will not only increase capacity but will also create new opportunities and pathways to meet the expansion needs of its customers.
From an environmental standpoint, investing in freight will take 76 lorries off the road per train in a way that is not only cleaner but faster too; making HS2 a fantastic opportunity for the industry.
When will HS2 railway be operational?
Phase one (London to Birmingham) had a completion target of 2026, with phase two (Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester) being completed between 2032-2033. Following the delay for the independent review to take place, the completion estimates are now:
Phase one completion target: 2028-2031
Phase two completion target: 2035-2040
How much will HS2 cost now?
An official review leaked in January estimated that HS2 costs would reach £106 billion, more than triple the original budget. This is due to the initial estimation using unrealistic land valuations as well as failures regarding soil surveys and management.
While the HS2 has been approved, opinions of whether the new railway line is the right choice are still divided. Keep checking in with Engineer Live for the latest in HS2 news.