The planned route for the controversial new HS2 high-speed rail line was just announced by the UK government. The planned route, which will be the first major railway expansion north of London since Victorian times, is predicted to cut the travel times between many major cities in half.
“The first phase of the project, from London to Birmingham, is planned to open in 2026,” Planetizen writes. “From 2033, the journey from Manchester to Birmingham should be cut to 41 minutes and from Manchester to London to 1hr 8min. The journey to Leeds will take 57 minutes from Birmingham, less than half the time it takes today,” Gwyn Topham of the Guardian announces.
“However,” said Gwyn, “the government has played down the speed and time savings to stress the need for extra capacity, along with the economic benefits and tens of thousands of jobs that the new infrastructure will bring. Department for Transport officials claim it will create at least 100,000 jobs.”
There is some controversy around the project, though. Major cities, such as Sheffield, have taken issue with where the stations are being planned. And, currently, there is direct link to Heathrow Airport planned. But the real controversy is around the environmental impact that the route may have on the “Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” and on many important wildlife habitats.
The government in the UK, however, considers the new route to be a “vital engine for growth” that will benefit all of the UK. It contends that the route will be necessary for continued economic growth.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Linking communities and businesses across the country and shrinking the distances between our greatest cities, high-speed rail is an engine for growth that will help to drive regional regeneration and invigorate our regional economies.
“It is vital that we get on board the high-speed revolution. High-speed rail is a catalyst that will help to secure economic prosperity across Britain, rebalance our economy and support tens of thousands of jobs.”
Additionally, high-speed rail is much cleaner than automobile travel, cutting carbon emissions and other types of pollution.
The HS2 route is set to be finalized by the end of next year.
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