An analysis of HS2
High Speed 2 (HS2) is a new high-speed rail line joining London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. It is the biggest upgrade to Britain’s rail network in over 20 years and is the most important and ambitious infrastructure project in the UK today, even more than Crossrail. HS2 provides extra track capacity on for the existing rail network, due to it taking the high speed services off existing multi-functional tracks and placing high speed on it’s own network of rails. Thus, allowing high speed trains to go faster than they do now, thanks to not being slowed down by commuter trains and freight. Elevating capacity on the existing lines for freight to have more capacity will result in a reduced amount of construction loads being transferred by road. This will not only reduce road emissions but also, it reduces pressure on the road network
Local public transport is meant to benefit from HS2 on many lines and in many areas. HS2 frees up space and capacity for local commuter trains into the cities and towns where HS2 stops. This allows, and HS2 planners are hoping for, passengers to catch a train to board HS2 rather than drive, get on a emitting bus or take a taxi. Therefore, reducing CO2 from journeys. The theme is for HS2 is to reduce carbon emissions not only of the rail network, but of Britain’s transport network. Take, for example, HS2’s willingness to use rail freight for transport of materials rather than road freight when they can. This will over 13 years take 1.5 million road freight journeys off the roads, not only reducing emissions, but also, reducing road congestion.
The reduction in time spent on a train will also be a delight for passengers as the current time of 84 minutes from Stoke Station to London Euston will be reduced to 71 minutes once HS2 is completed, saving passengers 13 minutes. Though there will be no HS2 trains from London Euston that terminates at Manchester Piccadilly that call at Stoke Station. This will be a real pain for many in the Potteries, as the desire to reduce the time between Stoke and Manchester Piccadilly, as well as, Stockport Station is there among locals and Keele Students.
High Speed 2 will call at Stoke-on-Trent station once per hour, once the whole of HS2 is open, with the service terminating at Macclesfield. However, this is less than the current twice per hour on the West Coast Mainline, served by the Pendolinos of Avanti West Coast, formerly Virgin Trains. Currently there is one service from London Euston that calls at Milton Keynes, Stoke-on-Trent and Stockport terminating at Manchester Piccadilly and one service from Euston that calls at Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Stockport, also terminating at Manchester Piccadilly. It is not known to what extent the Pendolino service will look like on the West Coast Mainline after HS2 Phase 2 is completed, though many are calling for the service to be reduced, but to stop at more stations to help alleviate pressure on the current rail network.
The economic benefits to Stoke-on-Trent will be on a large scale. The former leader of Stoke City Council assessed the benefits of HS2, “(The) route would generate about £200million extra growth for the regional economy”. This is a necessity for Stoke, a former industrial region hampered by de-industrialisation and globalisation. HS2 aims to re-generate Staffordshire and Cheshire by being an integral part of the Government backed Constellation Partnership which aims to create 100,000 new homes by 2040. The Constellation Partnership also plays an important role at Keele University. The expansion of the Science and Innovation Park on Keele Campus is one of the six strategic sites within the Constellation Partnership. The Innovation Park has the “potential to add 1.5 million sq.ft”, of business office space according to the University. This is a direct example of a Government back HS2 partnership scheme investing in Keele for the future.
It is uncertain whether HS2 will be a success over a decade from now. However, one can be quite certain that the inclusion of Stoke, rather than it’s original exclusion, on the route will be one that provides a great opportunity for the region as a whole. Not just Stoke, but Newcastle-under-Lyme and Keele will be at a real danger of realising their great potential.