HS2 – Fantasy or Folly?

The proposal for a new high speed rail network (HS2) has caused much consternation among the British population this week. Some are excited about the chance to get faster trains across the UK, many think that the project, which will cost £36 billion and take until 2026 to complete, is a big waste of money in these austere times.

The answer is probably somewhere between the two. Britain has long lagged behind the rest of Europe in terms of the quality of its train service. Compared to other European countries are trains are slow and overcrowded. British trains cost considerably more than their counterparts in Holland, France and Italy and we have none of the doubledecker trains which are used to maximise space so well on the continent.
 
The British transport secretary Justine Greening has therefore described H2S, which will cut down the time it takes to travel from London to Birmingham to a mere 49 minutes as “the most significant transport project since the building of the motorways.” There are further links proposed to connect London with Manchester and Leeds. However those of us who live in the West Country might also be feeling left out, as commuting could be made so much easier if the current one hour and forty minute journey to Paddington were cut down.

High Speed Train

However a number of commentators on the new websites have complained that the project will only benefit a privileged few despite the great toll it will take on the environment and the infrastructure.

A selection of comments from readers on the news agencies websites are below:

The Guardian: “Rural vandalism on a gargantuan scale. Stop it now Dave!” Dobbins

Sky News: “Only now?...What took you so long?...
“The French and Germans have had high speed rail services for years....”
“Seems the EU got a lot of things right a long time ago....whilst your were sleeping.” Breffni

Meanwhile the Telegraph political editor Patrick Hennessy reported that the project would create £8.5 billion black hole as the funds fail to match the benefits of the project.

What do you think about High Speed Rail 2? Let us know your thoughts....

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