Controversy continues regarding north-south rail link

Controversy about HS2, the planned new rail link between North and South Britain continues, but the first phase linking London and Birmingham is definitely in the works. According to analysts like Nigel Lewis of, Birmingham will reap untold benefits in coming years.

He cited the example of first-time home buyers with good jobs in London as potential investors, given that they would be able to commute one way in under 50 minutes as opposed to an hour and a half.

Indeed, Birmingham has a lot to offer both homeowners and visitors. It boasts a great many fine restaurants, its own symphony orchestra, ballet company and acting school, to mention only a few of its assets. In fact, The New York Times mentioned Birmingham as one of the must-visit sites in Britain, and the prestigious estate agency FleetMilne is greatly anticipating the proposed high-speed rail line.

David Moss of FleetMilne says that the 20-year Big City Plan for Birmingham will be a crucial factor in drawing investment to the city. Redevelopment of New Street Station, which is reported to be maxed out on capacity, construction of a new Library of Birmingham and other related projects will, he says, attract newcomers and thus raise real estate prices in the area, a boon to the city’s economy. Moss also mentioned areas such as the Jewellery Quarter, Harbonne and Moseley as likely hotspots.

The predicted rise in prices is supported, in part, by results of the HS1, which provided a faster service between London and Kent; causing house prices to reportedly rise by up to 14% in a single year. Some analysts predict a similar or greater rise, say a couple thousand pounds, for every minute cut from the time needed to get from one part of the country to another.

The HS2 will have several phases over the next fifteen to twenty years, all of which are still in the planning stages and subject to approval from various government and civilian agencies along the way.Its supporters claim that the new railway will do all sorts of good things for the country, such as creating as many as 40,000 new jobs including around 10,000 construction jobs for UK workers.

Additional benefits, hopefully, will include a viable alternative to driving or flying from north to south in the UK, cutting down on CO2 emissions and traffic congestion in the process. Ultimately, optimistic proponents say the HS2 will benefit the UK economy by as much as £60 billion after its completion in the as yet unspecified future.

Opponents of HS2 have different opinions, one being that the money would be better spent in upgrading and expanding existing rail networks. Another big issue is the right-of-way; the proposed line will cut through some of the UK’s loveliest countryside and endanger a lot of wildlife habitats. Although the routes include a considerable length of new tunnels, both underground and ‘green’ tunnels that are basically deep cuts with a tube in them and grass and trees planted on top, environmentalists are not convinced.

Another question is what it will cost the commuter to ride at 250mph and get there faster. The debate goes on, with many aspects still undecided and plenty of room for discussion.