Plans to construct Britain’s first-ever high-speed rail, nicknamed the HS2, have the country divided. While a recent survey by TNS-BMRB claims “almost half of Britons” back the project, there is still a large majority left in the opposition or undecided.
The £32 billion high-speed project, which is due to break ground in 2017, hopes to connect major cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds with a 250 mph rail link.
The high-speed train promises to cut down travel time significantly. Journeys between London and Birmingham would drop from 85 minutes to 49 and London to Manchester would go from two hours to 73 minutes.
Ministers project a £44 billion gain from the project, but many see it as a financial risk at the taxpayer’s expense.
“This is a railway for the rich, yet all of us are expected to pay for it and carry all of the financial risk,” said Lizzy Williams, head of an opposition group called Stop HS2.
However, those opposition are concerned that the hundreds of miles of new track will be a scar on the face of Britain’s countryside and a routine, noisy disruption in otherwise serene areas.
The HS2 West Coast Main Line is scheduled to finish around 2022, and until then the Department for Transportation asks for patience surrounding construction delays, which will affect popular terminals for a length of years.
Euston Station, one of London’s busiest terminals, may have interrupted service due to construction for at least seven years. The station will be essentially rebuilt during that time to accommodate the new high-speed train.
Still, ministers are confident the benefits outweigh the risks.
Said transport secretary Philip Hammond: “Of course we will do everything we can to mitigate the impacts…but projects like this have to be decided on the basis of the national interest and the overall net benefits it will bring to Britain.”