Will HS2 have the same impact on travel as the Channel Tunnel?

February 24, 2021
Discover whether HS2 will have the same transformative impact on travel as the Channel Tunnel. Learn about the key differences and challenges.

The HS2 railway construction project has not been without its critics. The timing of the project coincided with a global pandemic that led many to question the necessity of such a huge investment to shave times off commutes, that may no longer exist.

Whatever you think about the project, its costs and necessity, it is a landmark for railway construction in the UK.

Let’s have a look at some of the key details of it.

HS2 has been divided into 2 phases though the second one is split into 2a and 2b, which makes it 3? It’s an attempt to connect  8 of the 10 of Britain’s largest cities and their regions:

Birmingham, London, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Phase 1 is from London Euston to Birmingham with 4 brand new stations being constructed.

Phase 2a connects Crewe to Birmingham and Phase 2b spurs north and north east to Leeds and Manchester.

There’s a handy interactive map here.

What is fascinating from the perspective of Raildiary is not the route or the cost, but the logistical issues that could well be thrown into the mix.

Firstly, there’s geographical remoteness.

No one could argue that London to Birmingham could be classed as remote, although it hurts through the Cotswolds and Warwickshire.

No.  The team at Raildiary have their eyes fixed north at those stretches between Manchester and Glasgow and Leeds to Newcastle upon Tyne.

These routes pass through inhospitable terrains where the weather can be challenging and the local infrastructure of network signals and the like can cause issues.

The stretch from Lancaster to Motherwell passes through Cumbria and the Borders where issues can occur.

Secondly, there’s costs.You and us are all aware of what Coronavirus has cost us in both lives and livelihoods. A country that has been stretched financially will have the new burden of an estimated £88 billion in HS2 costs. Some experts are predicting that is a conservative figure too.

Thirdly, there’s time.

HS2 is predicted to be complete in 2040, some 19 years hence. It is a project of gargantuan scale and if it’s set against other landmark railway construction projects, this timing looks accurate. The Channel Tunnel, for example, took six years to complete with 13,000 employed on the project. It cost just under £5 billion at the time, which has a current value of £12 billion. Does anyone ever regret its construction?

Finally, accountability.

As part of the Prime Minister’s “levelling up” agenda, Boris Johnson is keen to implement measures to “restore discipline” to the project.

Whatever your viewpoint of HS2, there’s no little doubt that such an ambitious rail construction project has never been seen like it.

Raildiary can help your company’s involvement in HS2.

We have vast experience of teams using our software in challenging environments, like the Ribblehead Viaduct and London Underground. We provide keen costing and enable accountability with our app. And, of course, with our software being contemporary, it has future-roofing built in to serve you well in 2021, 2031 and 2040.

In conclusion, the construction of the High-Speed 2 (HS2) railway project in the United Kingdom is undoubtedly a significant undertaking with far-reaching impacts on the economy, the environment, and society as a whole. The project is expected to provide high-speed rail connectivity between major cities in the country and enhance transport infrastructure capacity, creating opportunities for economic growth and job creation.

The project has been criticized for the high cost of construction, the potential impact on the environment, and the displacement of local communities.

Nonetheless, the project has received support from the government and many industry experts who argue that it is necessary to improve the country's transport infrastructure and provide economic benefits. The HS2 project has the potential to deliver long-term economic benefits, including increased connectivity, improved productivity, and job creation.

Furthermore, it is crucial that the construction of the HS2 project is managed in a sustainable and responsible manner. The project should adhere to environmental standards and regulations, mitigate potential negative impacts, and engage with local communities to ensure that their concerns are adequately addressed.

In conclusion, the HS2 project is a significant undertaking that has the potential to bring about significant economic benefits to the United Kingdom. However, that the project is managed sustainably and responsibly to mitigate potential negative impacts and ensure that the benefits are realized in a fair and equitable manner. Ultimately, it is important to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

Will HS2 have the same impact on travel as the Channel Tunnel?

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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