Technology is always advancing, and this applies to our railway systems too. Currently in the pipeline is HS2, a state-of-the-art railway system designed to improve the economic strength, connectivity and low-carbon transport of this country.
In this article, we explore what’s been done so far with HS2 and what’s planned for the future.
What is HS2?
HS2 (or High Speed 2) is a planned speed railway network designed to offer greater connectivity, capacity and low-carbon transport options to UK citizens. The first routes in the network are expected to open between 2029 and 2033, with more routes added in the years to follow.
The railway network design will serve a ‘Y shape’ that will connect up many major cities throughout the UK across multiple regions, including Birmingham, London, York, Manchester, Newcastle, and many others. The aim is to make it faster and easier to reach various regions of the country, while also relieving strain and overcrowding on other transport links, and also lessening the number of lorries and commercial transport on our roads. As part of the build, existing stations will be updated and new ones will be built.
The HS2 follows HS1, which opened in the mid-2000s to connect the Channel Tunnel with the capital.
Why is HS2 being built?
On their official site, the main three benefits of the HS2 will be:
- Carbon: In the current ecological crisis, it’s becoming more important than ever to plan for a low-carbon future. Predicted carbon outputs for HS2 will be 7 times less than car journeys and 17 times less than a domestic flight.
- Connectivity: Connecting our cities and regions with faster, more efficient transport links will not only strengthen the connectivity of the country, but is also predicted to bring more economic strength to the North of England and the Midlands, and other less economically developed areas of the country. This could potentially lead to the production of more employment opportunities.
- Capacity: These HS2 trains will replace some of the existing trains, which will allow for more freight services to benefit from the freed up space, taking more lorries off the road. By moving long-distance services onto HS2, this will also free up space on local trains to relieve overcrowding.
2020 update on HS2
On the 15th of April, 2020, the government gave a green light to the HS2 project to begin the design and construction phases. This is formally known as a ‘note to proceed’. During the coronavirus situation, these phases will be carried out in line with government guidance to protect the health and safety of workers. The work has so far included planning the networks and technology required to deliver the project, and preparing sites for construction along with building demolishment.
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