Recently, Countryfile investigated the issues surrounding the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link that is proposed between London and Birmingham. Supporters of HS2 say that it will make journeys from London to Birmingham and the north of England far quicker while also adding much needed capacity to the rail network.
But there is huge opposition to HS2 for a variety of reasons but most centre on the cost, the noise and disruption to local communities along the route, and the impact on the countryside and its wildlife. In a recent poll on this website “Do you believe HS2 should be built?” 92 per cent of those who responded said “no”.
However, demand for rail travel is growing – the National Audit Office estimates that 1.27 billion passenger journeys were made in 2008-09 compared to 0.74 billion in 1994-95 and this is only going to increase although current services are fully stretched “nearly half of all passengers arrive at London between 08:00 and 08:59 on services that are either full or over-crowded”. The Office for Rail Regulation found that there were 600 million more passenger journeys in the UK in 2013 than in 2003.
In 2012, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for High Speed Rail found that demand for rail travel was increasing at 5-6% per year and the Dept of Transport has projected that by 2043, demand will be double that seen in 2008. The latter projection is disputed by some opponents of HS2.
So if demand for rail travel increases as expected, are there viable alternatives to HS2?
What do you think?