The works on the high-speed 2 (HS2) railway, a vast project that will be completed at a cost of $140 billion, began on September 4, 2020.
HS2 is a high-speed railway line that will connect London and the West Midlands and pass by 8 out of the 10 biggest cities in Britain. An interactive map of the railway can be found here.
The new line will carry the existing railway and place them on specially designed tracks allowing the local trains to use older lines. Thus, more connections and faster routes will be created. The passenger overcrowding will be reduced and more investments are expected to be deduced in the transport industry.
The project consists of 2 phases.
· Phase One includes a 225-kilometer line with high-speed trains that will connect London and Birmingham. It is expected to open between 2029 and 2033.
· Phase Two comprises of two subphases. Phase 2a includes a line that stretches between Fradley in the West Midlands and Crewe in Cheshire.
· Phase 2b consists of 2 sections. The first one will connect the West Midlands and pass by Leeds and the second one will connect Crewe and run through Manchester.
The construction works were approved by Prime Minister Boris Johnson before the COVID-19 outburst in the UK. Nevertheless, some criticize the sustainability of the project since it could take too much time to be completed and its cost is very high. Moreover, critics stated that it’s not a vital project since more and more people have started working from home, therefore, overcrowding in trains will probably be reduced.
It is certain that rail commuting has suffered critical losses during the coronavirus crisis. However, the government insists that investing in UK transport infrastructure will create jobs and have a positive financial impact.
The current project is expected to create more than 22,000 jobs during Phase One and people who have been affected by the pandemic crisis may be benefited.
Grant Shapps, the Secretary of UK’s State for Transport, defended the project. “We’re building this ... for 150 years and still going strong. So, I think the idea that — unless we work out a way of tele-transporting people — we won’t want a system to get people around the country ... is wrong,” Shapps, stated.
The new railway is designed to have a low environmental footprint. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, trains will emit 7 times less carbon than the equivalent emission of cars.