A document outlining the reasons why the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway is essential to the UK industry and passengers has been released yesterday by the Department of Transport.
It suggested that by 2026, 40% of passengers will be standing when using peak evening commuter services into London. Also, the government suggests that distress caused to passengers by constructions sites will be considerably higher if alternative solutions will be embraced.
A study from Network Rail and the management consultancy Atkins for the government, said that HS2 works would require 386 weekends of track closure for the project, where patch-up works to the existing north-south railways would take 2,770 weekend closures on the East Coast, West Coast and Midland main lines.
“Now is the time to be bold and deliver a world class railway which Britain deserves and can truly be proud of. Future generations will not forgive us if we fail to take this opportunity,” said Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin.
The new railway is estimated to deliver an annual boost to the economy of up to £15bn as a result of productivity benefits to business from faster journeys and reduced crowding. Although, the forecasted benefits expected per pound spent, have been lowered from £2.50 to £2.30.
Some sceptics are not fully convinced by the reasons why more than £50bn should be allocated over the next six years. According to Howard Wheeldon, Private Consultant at Wheeldon Strategic Advisory the scheme has a very short life span as the political parties will fail to come to an agreement on the matter.
“Turkey’s are unlikely to vote for Christmas and by the same reasoning of political correctness neither should we expect the increasingly fragile HS2 consensus between Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrats to be sustained for more than a year. In fact I give it just six more months to survive. I believe that the HS2 axe is already being sharpened by the Treasury and that no matter what the economic merits for building a new railway line between London and the North might be, chances that it will be built in this generation are all but none existent,” said Wheeldon.
On the other side of the barricade, Philippa Oldham, head of yransport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers suggests that “commitment to HS2 [also] provides the UK’s engineering industry with the much-needed confidence to invest in future skills and will help the UK become a world leader in the development and delivery of railway technology. Over 95% of Crossrail’s budget to date has been won by UK-based businesses – and this is something which could and should be replicated in HS2.”