HS2 Two

Interesting to hear recently (10th April) that Sir David Higgins has said he wants to accelerate the construction of HS2 and see Britain be more ambitious with its high-speed rail plans.

Most of his thoughts seem to be based around the fact that only 6No FTSE companies are based north of Birmingham and most commentators are making the HS2 case as a way to “start to set right the country’s economic imbalance”.

HS2 delivered earlier than the Phase 2 , 2033 deadline for is the ambition of Sir David who is effectively suggesting that this could be forwarded a few years with the link to Crewe promoted by some 7 years and then onto complete phase 2 by 2030.

We also note that Sir David has been challenged on two fronts; promote the programme and also make it cheaper. In November 2013, Higgins was asked to produce a report that would deliver both government aspirations and effectively deliver their cake and eat it as well. You recall our blog (7/10/1913 – High Speed 2) where we mentioned that the original budget stands at £42.6 billion and a further £3 billion for rolling stock. It seems the key driver for Sir David to succeed on both fronts is that the earlier a decision is made, the cheaper it will be.

If anyone living in Nottingham or places “up North”, as those here at the TEW Group, had any doubt that HS2 is not just another Government aspiration and is really having an impact now, they should consider the Villagers of Burton Green in Warwickshire. As the BBC reported yesterday, people in the peaceful Warwickshire village are already packing up and moving out because of the high-speed rail line. This after HS2 announces a new raft of compensation measures.
So here’s the thing: on one hand there is a known objective to look to “rebalance” the economic circumstances of the North/South. Then on the other hand, this suggests that one upshot that rebalancing may have is to affect the lives of people looking to avoid the construction impact. In other words, rebalancing isn’t always great for everyone and as with scales; something will go up at a cost of the opposite happening at the other end. Does Sir David’s “rebalancing” refer to sleepy Warwickshire Village residents relocating to Huddersfield or perhaps when everything’s been sorted by 2030, they will be working for BP in their new HQ in Halifax?

HS2 is ambitious, controversial and rightly subject to dreams, aspirations, hopes & desires from all sides of the debate. What is clear is there is a need for infrastructure investment on this level. As a business very much involved in the Application Engineering of transportation in many forms, we would conclude that a project like HS2 , with its extraordinary level of ambition, is worthy of a fair amount of trust to those who instigated it.

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