The country that invented railways is about to go high speed. The UK has one high speed line HS1 between London’s St Pancras station and the Channel Tunnel, opened in November, 2009. This is about to change with approval of HS2 (High Speed 2) between a rebuilt London Euston Station and Birmingham. Don’t hold your breath. Opening date is set for 2026.
A second phase would have the line split at Birmingham with one branch running up to leeds and the other to Manchester. If Phase one will open 2026, phase two may not be in my lifetime?
The fastest travel time for London to Birmingham will fall to 49 minutes from 1 hour 12 minutes.
The critics of the scheme have noted that 400 houses will go, 21, 300 houses will be impacted by rail noise, the Chilterns, an area of outstanding beauty will have a rail line cutting through it, the time savings are not great and that it would not actually greatly reduce carbon emissions. All at cost of 26 billion pounds.
I love rail travel but wonder about this scheme. The major benefits I see are a rebuild of the completely inadequate Euston station and much needed additional capacity to Birmingham as the existing lines are running out of room for more trains. The speed increase is almost an incidental benefit.
Of course, the whole scheme is years ahead of the USA and Australia both of which lack High Speed infrastructure.