The British government has given its approval for the construction of a high speed rail network (HS2) from London and from several cities in the north. It is the most significant transport infrastructure project since the building of the motorways. The network will provide direct, high capacity, high speed links between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, with intermediate stations in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. There will also be direct links to Heathrow Airport and to the Continent via the HS1 line. It will form a foundation for a potentially wider high speed network in years to come.
The capital cost of building the complete network is £32.7 billion. The line from London to the West Midlands and the connection to HS1 are expected to open in 2026, followed, in 2032-33, by the onward legs to Manchester and Leeds and the connection to Heathrow.
HS2 is entirely consistent with the Government’s objectives for carbon emissions. Electrified rail is a comparatively low-carbon mode of transport, especially with the continued decarbonisation of the grid. Speed increases power consumption, but also makes HS2 more attractive to those currently flying or driving. The faster journeys on HS2 – Edinburgh and Glasgow will be just 3.5 hours from London – could shift around 4.5 million journeys per year otherwise made by plane and 9 million from the roads. HS2 will also create more rail capacity on existing conventional speed lines for freight – removing lorries from busy trunk roads. HS2 is therefore an important part of transport’s low-carbon future.
(Source: Department for Transport, UK)