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£100 Billion HS2 Project Gets Government Green Light

Work on a new high-speed rail link in the UK has been given the go-ahead by the Government. It is believed that the cost of the work could reach over £100 billion. What will it bring to the country and when will it be ready for travellers to use? 

What Is the HS2?

This proposed rail line will bring high-speed travel between London and Birmingham in the first phase. The second part of the project will see Birmingham linked to Manchester and Leeds. It will be integrated with the Northern Powerhouse Rail network that is aimed at setting up a Manchester to Leeds line.

The green light was given despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticising the project management and pointing out that costs for it had “exploded”. A Government minister will be put in place to oversee the work and ensure that that there are no further “blowouts”.

The original budget for this huge project was produced in 2012 and put the work at £32.7 billion. The first official revision appeared in 2015, by which time the cost had soared to £55.7 billion. In 2019, the next official estimate came out and the price of the project was put at £88 billion. 

The Oakervee review is expected out soon, with an estimate of around £106 billion now seemingly on the cards. At a time when many businesses are contacting debt collection firms due to the sluggish economy, this rising cost has attracted a good deal of criticism.

When Will It Be Ready?

Work on the HS2 is said to be ready to start in the next few weeks. Johnson announced to the country that “we are going to get this done”. He added that it was a “controversial and difficult decision"

Trains will leave from London Euston, heading to Birmingham’s Curzon Street and Interchange. The journey from London to Birmingham should be reduced from the current figure of 1 hour 22 minutes to just 45 minutes.

Another rail trip that will be significantly quicker will be from London to Manchester. This is predicted to drop from 2 hours 7 minutes to 1 hour and 7 minutes. In the same way, travelling times between any of the affected cities will be reduced.

The first stage could be ready for use by the time this decade comes to a close. The estimated completion date for phase 1 is 2028-31. It had initially been planned for 2026.

As for stage 2, this has been given a completion date of 2035-40. Again, this is a change from the original plans for work to be done by 2032 or 2033.

What Are the Potential Benefits?

The improved infrastructure and speedier rail journeys around the UK could help to boost the nation’s regional economies. It is also a means of boosting the overall capacity of Britain’s rail networks and freeing up lines for other uses.

In terms of the environment, this could be an important step in the move to lower carbon emissions by encouraging the use of public transport.

Given the controversial nature of this project and the rising costs, a lot of people will be keeping a close eye on how the work progresses and whether the revised budget can be met.