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Kal Vaughan
Kal Vaughan
  • 2 Minute Read
  • 28th January 2013

HS2 announcement “an engine of growth”

Plans for the creation of a major high speed rail network linking London to the major cities of the midlands have been unveiled today by the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin.

The plans are part of a government initiative to bring the rail services of the British Isles into the 21st century; making the economy more competitive in future, halving rail travel times with trains reaching speeds up to 215mph.

However, the projects suggested route and extensive £32bn budget have caused controversy, with residents of towns affected by its construction opposing the proposals, alongside local MP’s and a proportion of executives.

Speaking today on BBC Breakfast, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne conceded, “It is a controversial decision, ….[however] I think that the economic benefits to all the communities are pretty compelling.”

Mr Osborne’s colleague, Andrew Bridgen and MP for Northwest Leicestershire, also speaking today on BBC Breakfast, heavily opposed and criticised the announcement saying the rail system would bring no economic benefits for his electorate.

And, with the projects late lead time of nearly 13 years, would not be relevant to the economic requirements of the UK at that time.

He said: “This project could very well scupper a £450m private sector investment in a regional transport hub just north of the airport which plans to create nearly 7,000 new jobs in my constituency, and that’s now.”!

The government claims the project will boost the economy by creating over 100,000 jobs, with the new infrastructure enabling greater efficiency for businesses professionals, promoting growth throughout the U.K. and investment from third party bodies.

If pushed through, the south, south east and west would by connected via a complex Y-shaped high speed rail network stemming from London Euston by 2033, putting them on a par with 200mph train networks currently found throughout northern Europe.

The implications which the rail network would have for businesses affected by its construction was divulged by director of BNP Paribas Real Estate, Chris Selway - a property specialist of CPO and rail sector with 34 years’ experience.

“As a life-long railway surveyor and supporter, I welcome investment in our national infrastructure and the benefits this will bring to UK plc – both in reducing journey times between our major cities and in freeing up much needed capacity for regional local and freight train movements.

“It is disappointing that with the government’s firm commitment and cross party support, more couldn’t have been done to assist affected businesses sooner.

“My concern and focus however will be to advise and protect the interests of blighted businesses along the routes who face a long period of uncertainty and disruption to their business plans and strategies, for which there is no statutory remedy until way down the line.

“Some of our clients affected by Phase 1 have been struggling to adjust their plans for more than 18 months now. They have had to accommodate the impact on their property and operations, whilst bearing the on-going cost and diversion of resources to undertake the work.” He said.

There are two distinct arguments concerned with the prosed scheme; one stems from local residents and businesses’ affected by construction work, who perceive no real benefit either economically or in terms of infrastructural in their region.

The other is backed by political heads and chief economists, who insist on the programmes legitimacy, even in times where strains on public finances have never been tighter.

A saying very fitting to the latter would be, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the tasting’, but unfortunately it won’t be ready for at least 13 years should the plans go ahead.