Plans proposed by HS2’s chairman for a high-speed rail link across the North of the country have received government backing and will begin development soon under the name of HS3.
It stands as an expansion of the HS2, the high speed rail route currently under development to offer a service from London up to Birmingham, and across the West Midlands, Manchester and Leeds. HS3 will develop from these lines, with the intention of reducing travel time between major Northern cities, and has been described by George Osborne as the North’s equivalent of the London Crossrail project.
HS3 will be completed by a combination of methods including upgrading existing lines, building new tracks and tunnels and re-opening existing tunnels. Once completed it will provide twice the amount of trains per hour than currently in service and offer a potential reduction in travel time of between 15-45 minutes for cross-country journeys.
HS3 proposals come after the recognition by David Cameron for major improvements to the whole countries rail services however, as with a large proportion of government plans; both HS2 and HS3 have received sharp criticism since their announcement. The most predominant argument for HS2 is that it is far too costly; Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin has claimed that currently HS2 is costly £175million per mile, when Arup have stated that similar improvements could be made to the rail for a total price of £110million. HS3 has received similar debate with Dr Richard Wellings from the Institute of Economic Affairs referring to it as “little more than a costly vanity project”- again suggesting that the government is overspending on projects for no justifiable reason.
Whilst the work being conducted may be regarded as some as overly expensive, the benefits of HS3, as with HS2, are numerous and should be celebrated. Such benefits will include a number of jobs being created during the work period, houses along the routes of both projects will likely see a value increase, economic opportunities will be more evenly distributed between the North and South and travel will be significantly improved across the North.
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