Will the hs2 be worth the projected benefits despite the financial cost of money and life? Essay

Will the HS2 be worth the projected benefits despite the financial cost of money and life?

Luke Clucas


My Abstract


My aim is to evaluate whether the HS2 projected benefits are worth the cost of life and money by evaluating a range of information about the HS2. This will help me come to a final conclusion about the projected benefits in relation to the cost of both money and life.

What is the HS2?

The High Speed 2 (HS2) is a high-speed railway under construction in the United Kingdom which when completed, will directly connect London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester. The HS2 is scheduled to open in phases between 2026 and 2033.

There will be different sections of the HS2 such as Phase 1 which is from London to the West Midlands, with the first services scheduled for 2026. Phase 2 is from the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester, scheduled for full completion by 2033. Phase 2 is split into two sub-phases:


I carried out extensive research in order to write my project, aiming to show the HS2 and how useful it will be when it is completed. I have also tried to explore a range of perspectives on the HS2.

Phase 2a is from the West Midlands to Crewe, with the first services scheduled for 2027.

Phase 2b is from Crewe to Manchester, and from the West Midlands to Leeds, with the first services scheduled for 2033, however a one-year delay has been announced to mesh in Northern Powerhouse rail, west to east line, into HS2.

Governments’ Strategy towards the HS2

The High Speed 2 (HS2) is a high speed railway network that will, when completed will connect London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester. These are all scheduled to open around different times throughout the years between 2026 and 2033. high-speed trains will travel up to 400 km/h (250 mph) on 330 miles (530 km) of track. HS2 will be the second high-speed rail line in Britain, the first being High Speed 1 (HS1).

The Government’s plans for a national high speed rail network are consistent with its wider transport and economic objectives. It will provide vital capacity on key strategic transport routes, support economic growth and regeneration in towns and cities across Britain, ensure that a low-carbon option is in place for an increasing number of journeys, and create the potential for significant increases in both commuter services to tackle overcrowding and freight services to take Lorries off the roads.

Consultation responses commented extensively on the fit between the Governments ‘proposed strategy for high speed rail and its wider transport objectives. In particular, responses claimed that the absence of a codified transport strategy precludes any firm decisions on the merits of high speed rail.

The Government does not agree with this view. The government have set out in their Business Plan a clear vision for a transport system that is an engine for economic growth but one that is also greener and safer and improves quality of life in our communities, and they have explained how they plan to achieve this. This provides a clear context in which the Government’s high speed rail plans are being developed. However, in the light of points raised in consultation, as the HS2 project is developed the Government will seek to provide further information over the role that high speed rail will play in its wider objectives and strategies. That is already beginning to happen through, for example, the coordination of the National Infrastructure Plan, the Growth Review, and National Policy Statements the national networks statement in particular relates to HS2 and through local development plans and the work of Local Economic Partnerships.


The different aspects of the cost can be explored differently such as the actually cost of the HS2 and the loss of life are just two examples of the cost. The funding for the HS2 was estimated by The Department for Transport initially around £30 billion to be funded by the government with the Manchester Airport station locally funded. The Manchester airport station is to be separately funded by the airport and the wider region. Since the first estimated numbers have been released costs have gradually been estimated to rise. Liverpool has added £6 Billion to the fund link in March 2016 the HS2 has also received funding from the European Unions Connecting Europe Facility (is a European Union fund for Pan-European infrastructure investment in transport, energy and digital projects which aim at a greater connectivity between European Union member states (2014–2020). It operates through grants, financial guarantees and project bonds. It is run by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency.

The first 190-kilometre (120 mi) section, from London to Birmingham, was originally cost at between £15.8 and £17.4 billion, and the entire 540-kilometre (335 mi) network at £30 billion.

In June 2013 the projected cost rose by £10 Billion to £42.6 Billion and no more than a week later it was revealed that the DFT had been using an outdated model to estimate the productivity increases associated with the railway.

When the labour party was in the government in 1997 to 2010 it was declared that the HS2 would be an “expensive mistake” and that the HS2 was used to “Paint an upbeat view of the future” which followed the financial crisis of 2008.

Part One

Social Impacts

The visual impact of HS2 has received particular attention in the Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Government announced in January 2011 that two million trees would be planted along sections of the route to soften the visual impact.

Property demolition, land take and compensation

Phase 1 will result in the demolition of more than 400 houses; 250 around Euston station, 20–30 between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip, a number in Ealing, around 50 in Birmingham, and the remainder in pockets along the route. No Grade I or Grade II* listed buildings (A building is listed when it is of special architectural or historic interest considered to be of national importance and therefore worth protecting.) Will be demolished, but six Grade II listed buildings will be, with alterations to four and removal and relocation of eight. In Birmingham, the new Curzon Gate student residence will be demolished and Birmingham City University wanted a £30 million refund after the plans were revealed.

From the beginning of the HS2 consultation period, the government has factored in several plans to compensate people who will or may be affected. Once original plans had been released in 2010, the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) was set up, however this was at the government's discretion and Phase 1 came to an end on 17 June 2010. With EHS Phase 2 running throughout 2013. Both EHS are intended to compensate homeowners who have difficulty selling their home because of the HS2 route announcement, to protecting those whose property value may be seriously affected by the 'preferred route option' and who urgently need to sell.

From my research I can say that ultimately people will not be happy about losing their home but in my opinion I would suggest that they look towards their future as the HS2 will have a big impact on people living in that general area I think it will be effective. Although they would lose their homes in response to the construction to the HS2 the government has proposed that they would “Compensate people who will or may be affected” I think this is an acceptable response as the government aims to compensate the people effected, therefore they might receive money for their lost home. However, there is a negative to this as the people who will lose their home might be at different value in a different and if the government gives an average to everyone and it is below the cost of their house I imagine people wouldn’t be content with the situation.

Public Consultations

Since the announcement of Phase 1 the government has had plans to create an overall 'Y shaped' line with termini in Manchester and Leeds. Since the intentions to further extend were announced an additional compensation scheme was set up. Consultations with those affected were set up over late 2012 and January 2013, to allow homeowners to express their concerns within their local community.

The results of the consultations are not yet known, but Alison Munro, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, has stated that it is also looking at other options, including property bonds. The statutory blight regime would apply to any route confirmed for a new high-speed line following the public consultations, which took place between 2011 and January 2013.

HS2 Action Alliance's alternative compensation solution for property blight was presented to DfT/HS2 Ltd and Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, in response to the consultation on the EHS. The Alliance also presented DfT and HS2 Ltd with a pilot study on property blight.

Public Impact

The revision of the route through South Yorkshire, which replaced the original plans for a station at Meadowhall for a station of the HS2 tracks at Sheffield was cited as a major reason for the collapse of the Sheffield City Region devolution deal; Sheffield City Council's successful lobbying for a city-centre station in opposition to Barnsley, Doncaster, and Rotherham's preference to the Meadowhall option caused Doncaster and Barnsley councils to seek an all-Yorkshire devolution deal instead.

Environmental Impacts

Ancient Woodland Impact

The Woodland Trust claims that 98 ancient woodlands will suffer loss or be damaged due to HS2, and 34 more will be affected by disturbance, noise and pollution. In England, ancient woods are areas that have been continuously wooded since 1600 and are the country's richest land-based habitat, with a complex and diverse ecology of plants and animals. According to the Trust, 40 hectares are threatened with total loss from the construction of phases 1 and 2a, which is 0.01% of England's 340",000 hectares of ancient woodlands. To mitigate the loss, HS2 Ltd says that during phase 1 it will plant 7 million trees and shrubs, creating 900 hectares of new woods. The Woodland Trust has called the compensatory tree planting "green wash nonsense"

From my research I know that the ancient woodlands in England existed since 1600AD Ancient woodlands are England’s richest land-based habitat for wildlife. They are home to more threatened species than any other, and some may even be remnants of the original wildwood that covered the UK after the last Ice Age 10",000 years ago. Yet today, ancient woodland covers only around 2% of the UK’s land area.

Their soils remain relatively undisturbed by human activities, keeping layers laid down over centuries of falling leaves and providing a home for hidden communities of fungi, invertebrates and dormant seeds. If the HS2 construction destroys all of England’s ancient woodlands that wouldn’t be excepted by all and some people will oppose in the destruction of one of our oldest features.

Loss of wildlife habitat and recreation space

David Lidington, MP for Aylesbury, raised concerns that the route could damage the 47 kilometers wide Chiltern Hills area of outstanding natural beauty, the Colne Valley regional park on the outskirts of London, and other areas of green belt.

The route passes through the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire via the Misbourne Valley. Initially through a tunnel beneath Chalfont St Giles emerging just after Amersham, then past Wendover and Stoke Mandeville Its proposals include a re-alignment of more than 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) of the River Tame, and construction of a 0.63 km (0.39 mi) viaduct and a cutting through ancient woodland at a nature reserve at Park Hall on the edge of Birmingham.

From my research and own opinion, I think that the loss of wildlife and habitats will be effected dramatically as the area of natural beauty will take years to recover and because of the construction of the HS2 the land could be effected and wouldn’t be restored to its full beauty. Animal habitats will be effected and some may not be restored, examples of the wildlife that would live in England’s forests are Deer’s, Owls and Foxes. It is said that 47 kilometers could be damages which is 74 kilometers long and 18 Kilometers wide and which is over half of the Chiltern Hills. If these habitats are destroyed people would oppose this which would mean that the HS2 would be disliked which could be a problem in a later date, the green party would oppose in the destruction of ancient woodlands.

Carbon Emissions

In 2007 the DfT commissioned a report, Estimated Carbon Impact of a New North South Line, from Booz Allen Hamilton to investigate the likely overall carbon impact associated with the construction and operation of a new rail line to either Manchester or Scotland including the extent of carbon reduction or increase from population shift to rail use, and the comparison with the case in which no new high-speed lines were built. The report concluded that there was no net carbon benefit in the foreseeable future taking only the route to Manchester. Additional carbon from building a new rail route would be larger in the first ten years at least than a model were no new rail line was built.


HS2 Ltd stated that 21",300 dwellings could experience a noticeable increase in rail noise and 200 non-residential receptors (community, education, healthcare, and recreational/social facilities) within 300 metres (980 ft) of the preferred route have the potential to experience significant noise impacts. The Government has announced that trees planted to create a visual barrier will reduce noise pollution.

Part Two

For and Against

There are many reasons why people are for the HS2, however there are many reasons why people are against it in this part I will exploring either the HS2 will have more pros than cons.

The Pros

With the road system becoming crowded with limited ability to keep increasing capacity. Offering high-speed rail will encourage more people to travel by train relieving gridlock in city centres. Therefore, it is not just rail travellers who will benefit, but those who gain from lower congestion on the roads.

With the HS2 under construction it will offer more jobs and apprenticeships throughout the years of construction.

Journey times from London to Birmingham will be less than one hour. There will also be quick rail links to Manchester and Leeds.

The £17bn will be spread out over 15-20 years. Therefore, we can afford it.

The £1- £2bn annual capital investment will help create jobs, stimulate economic activity and give a decent rate of return.

High-speed rail will take travel away from short distance air-travel, leaving a lower carbon footprint.

Environmental impact will be mitigated by ‘green tunnels’ and planting of trees.

Empirical results show that increased train frequency can have significant external benefits in terms of lower pollution, fewer road accidents and drops in infant mortality.

Trains have a better safety record than the roads. Passenger death rates (2008)

By car 1.9 per billion Km

By train 0.3 per billion Km

The Cons

There are other alternatives such as increasing train length on existing routes.

HS2 may only benefit a small section of the population who use trains between major cities.

Benefits of improved speed is debatable given that many people can now work on laptops away from the office.

Environmental costs of building new line through the Chilterns.

In an era of budget cuts, spending on train service is not the highest priority.

Forecasts for passenger numbers are uncertain, no guarantee the demand will be there.

Rather than reduce north-south divide, it may encourage people to live further away from London and use HS2 and fast commute to London.

Rail-future a campaigning group for rail travel criticised the need for ultra-high speed trains, there may be a bigger overall benefit from running slightly slower trains over different routes. Rail future


It is not often Britain attempts an ambitious investment project. The political system makes expensive, forward thinking investment projects unlikely to return much political capital. Elections aren’t won by promising improved transport links for the next decade. True, we like to grumble at the inadequate state of current transport links, but to actually invest the necessary money and time is another matter.

HS2 will cost £32 billion to build, generate £27 billion in fares and provide £44 billion of economic benefits. There is an economic case for HS2 but there are also good economic cases for other infrastructure investment, which is less eye-catching but capable of delivering benefits in a different way.

Due to its disruptive nature, local residents in the path of the railway are strongly opposed.

Journey times

This table shows the journey times from areas around the UK using the car, HS2 phase 1 and the Hs2 phase 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Speed_2

London to/from

Fastest journey time before HS2

Journey time after HS2 Phase 1

Journey time after HS2 Phase 2

Reduction after HS2 Phase 1

Reduction after HS2 Phase 2




no change

0:24 (32.9%)

no change

East Midlands Hub










0:20 (16.7%)

0:52 (43.3%)



no change


no change


London to/from

Journey time before HS2

Journey time after HS2 Phase

Reduction after HS2 Phase 2




0:34 (31.2%)




0:35 (38.8%)




0:45 (17.1%)




0:54 (19.9%)




0:32 (25.0%)




0:33 (19.2%)




0:44 (34.4%)




0:46 (36.8%)




0:30 (26.5

Figure 1


HS2 Layout . (n.d.)



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