Published on January 11th, 2012 |
by Nick Doyle
Image © For those of us with a keen eye on infrastructure, the arrival of the high speed (HS2) rail network has been given the go ahead. This is news that seems long overdue in many respects but it certainly has divided some of the public over the potential plans. There are a few points that are worth noting for the "against" side.
And then there was HS2
For those of us with a keen eye on infrastructure, the arrival of the high speed (HS2) rail network has been given the go ahead. This is news that seems long overdue in many respects but it certainly has divided some of the public over the potential plans.
There are a few points that are worth noting for the “against” side.
- The line will cut through 13 miles of the Chilterns. This is picturesque English country side that will now have a HS2 rail route cutting through it.
- The price of tickets on this line may well exclude a great deal of people from using the service with only the “wealthy few” having the privilege.
- The network is only as green as its supplier of energy.
- Is £33bn a rational amount of money to be spending whilst the country is still in uncertain financial times?
A good case for the ‘no’ side but that is not the end of the story by a long way. As far as the first concern goes the plan now includes an extensive amount of tunnelling aimed at reducing many of the impacts the HS2 line would have on the surrounding area and communities. The second point seems more blurry; as far as the cost of the transport there are only estimates at the moment but with rail travel ever increasing in price, it seems by 2026 (the expected time the line is finished), any sort of travel involving a train will be extortionate. The third point is a good one; but one that is inherent in everything we do. Any sort of infrastructure relies on energy, and if the source is polluting, so is the building. By 2026 I doubt the troubles of climate change will be solved, but surely our reliance on renewable energy will be much higher; hopefully (and I italicise because it is a hope) this is a problem that won’t plague the developement in the future.
The last point is perhaps the most interesting. It brings in your view of economics and government policy, and ultimately the future. This money will be spent slowly, but it will be spent; so is this the time to start the ball rolling? I would say yes, because I like Keynes, but there are a lot that would argue against that point. Whether the governement should spend regardless of our situation (or indeed in order to improve it) is a debate that will probably still be raging in 14 years time.
A lot of it, such as politics is, seems to be embedded in hope.