HS2 construction is underway in the UK. HS2 is a new British government-planned high-speed rail network which will originate in London and go to Birmingham, with spurs taking riders to Manchester and to Leeds. As of the time of this writing, the new railway line placed between London and the West Midlands, which is expected to be fully operational by the year 2026, is being designed to carry 400m-long trains with a maximum 1,100 seat capacity per train.
Specifically, Old Oak Common, which is an old (indeed!) rail depot in the north-west section of London, is going to be transformed into a 14-platform interchange station providing high-speed connections to central London, the City, and Heathrow airport. UK Government Ministers anticipate the creation of approximately 20,000 new jobs from the project. Thousands of jobs have already been created, and more than 2,000 businesses have already contributed to the project, as of this writing.
The trains are going to be able to travel up to 250 mph, a maximum speed which is faster than that of any currently operating European train. Also, they would leave station up to 14 times per hour in each direction.
Critics of the project, which include the UK’s Wildlife Trusts, say that the new high-speed line and its spurs are going to do harm to the natural environment. However, project leaders have pointed out that the very design and construction of the HS2 line includes an unprecedented “green corridor” which is going to mean the creation of new wildlife habitats, the re-planting of native woodlands, and the implementation of new public communal spaces. What’s more, amazing as it is, some of those who are working on the project have even discovered an ancient, sub-tropical coastline approximately 56 million years old.
According to UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, “HS2 will not only be the backbone of our national network, but a truly ambitious project that will drive huge economic growth right across the country. It will create significant benefits for all, delivering improved connections between our major cities, introducing more seats and services for passengers, and creating thousands of new jobs and opportunities for people and businesses across the UK.”
Meanwhile, Core Cities UK Vice Chair and Leader of Newcastle City Council Nick Forbes has declared, “Core Cities UK Leaders and Mayors believe HS2 is of enormous economic benefit to all our cities, even those not directly on the route. It will pay for itself many times over. And there is no reason why HS2 should be the end of the story, we believe it can be a first step towards high speed rail for the whole of the UK.” At the same time, critics and detractors argue that certain areas of the nation, such as Wales, will not see any economic benefit at all from HS2, and may even go into decline as a result of its creation.