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H2S Rail Link: What are the Pros and Cons?

The proposed HS2 rail link is a controversial project, with both passionate supporters and those opposed to the plans. The project will see a high speed line connecting London and Birmingham by 2026, with extensions to Manchester and Leeds in 2033. With strong arguments on both sides, what are the main pros and cons of this development? The Anderselite team wanted to find out more…
A recent report commissioned by HS2 Ltd, stated that the new rail link would give a £15 billion boost to the UK economy. This wouldn't just be London focussed, with the biggest benefits being felt outside the capital. It estimated that Birmingham would see an increase of between 2.1% and 4.2%; Manchester of between 0.8% and 1.7%; Leeds 1.6% and London 0.5%. Overall the economy would see £46.9 billion worth of economic benefits, covering increased job prospects, less congestion on existing services and additional revenue.

Supporters of the project believe that it's an essential development if we want to prevent the transport infrastructure from being run into the ground. Investing in this scheme now will secure the future capacity of the rail network. The new line will transport passengers between London and Birmingham in just an hour. It will not only provide passengers with quicker rail journeys between key cities, but it will also create more jobs both during construction work and after completion.
 
The environmental benefits of this rail route are significant. Estimates suggest that there could be up to 500,000 fewer lorry journeys made every single day as a result of this new high speed link. As the train service becomes more reliable and efficient, road users will be tempted into switching to rail. This will reduce the number of people using the roads, lowering congestion and carbon emissions too. Trains are a considerably safer way of travelling than cars. The development of the new route will include the addition of 'green tunnels' and trees will be planted to compensate for the environmental cost.

As with any contentious issue, there are those who are opposed to the development of HS2. One of their major concerns was highlighted in a recent report from the Institute of Economic Affairs, which stated that the project was likely to cost more than the budget and provide fewer benefits to the economy. It was said that the development team had failed to account for costs such as compensation for season ticket holders during construction, the redevelopment and expansion of Euston Station and the overall operating costs. It also doesn't believe that the demand for these journeys will grow fast enough to meet the expectations, leading to fewer journeys and less revenue. On the other hand, whilst the cost to many may seem excessive, the budget of £42.6 billion will be spread across 15 to 20 years

Critics of the project think that the financial data the Government is relying on is not robust enough and that the project's likely to go over the £42.6 billion budget. They say there are are other, less expensive, ways of improving the country's transport infrastructure rather than placing a huge burden on tax payers. In these times of economic uncertainty, there are other areas where the money would be better spent, including making changes to the services we already have. There may be cheaper ways of creating a more efficient rail network, such as providing more carriages on existing services. In fact, they say, by the time the service is up and running, the number of passengers travelling on the route might have declined. But it could also be argued that there will be an increasing demand for rail services, requiring many more seats and additional services, which just isn't possible within the current system..

One of the main advantages of the project, speed, is criticised by opponents. They think that this isn't an essential component of rail travel, especially with the advances in mobile technology. This now enables people to work efficiently outside the office, including on trains. However, the existing HS1 line between London and the South Coast has already met its expectations, proving that there is a demand for high speed rail.

Like so many others, Anderselite await further developments with interest.
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