Created on: February 05, 2013
Phase 2 of the high-speed rail network (HS2) in the United Kingdom has not been without controversy. Ongoing debate centers around not only the rail’s route (between London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester) but also its supposed benefits. While the government suggests that the new HS2 will lead to more jobs, less traffic on roadways, and faster travel time (particularly for business travelers), those most affected by the new high-speed rail link suggest that the route “will cut through picturesque countryside.”.
Other negatives include potential environmental damage, as well as claims by those in the north of Britain that the HS2 would benefit London far more than the North. Locals also dispel notions advanced by government ministers that this rail would be of great economic benefit to businesspeople, who would put to better use the time they save while using HS2 (compared with normal train service).
Altogether some 70 groups have voiced their opposition to the HS2, including the HS2 Action Alliance and Wildlife Trusts, which have argued that the high-speed rail could damage untold amounts of natural habitat. In a report by “The Independent” newspaper, it was determined that “More than 350 wildlife sites, including nature reserves, ancient woodlands and wetlands which are home to some of Britain’s rarest species, are threatened by the high-speed rail link.”
Benefits of the HS2
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the development of the HS2 is the introduction of new train technology to the United Kingdom. These trains (with seating for 1,100 passengers) would be the fastest (up to 250 miles per hour) anywhere in Europe, slashing travel times, and offering more frequent service.
It has been suggested by the government that travel times (many of which would be cut in half or even less) would not only ease the overcrowding of commuter trains, but could also “transfer 4.5 million journeys a year from the air and 9 million from the roads, removing lorries from busy routes,” according to the BBC.
The government has suggested that while the rail link is expected to cost some 32 billion pounds, it is likely to reap economic rewards on the order of 47 billion pounds (although skeptics dispute these assessments).
An additional and important benefit in the current economic climate is the number of jobs it is likely to create, estimated to be some 40,000 in the London to West Midlands section alone.
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