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17th August 2015
Author: Caroline Lockyer – Glenigan's utility sector expert
High Speed Two (HS2) Limited is the company responsible for developing and promoting the UK’s new high speed rail network. It is funded by grant-in-aid from the Government.
With all large projects, including Hinkley Point C and many onshore and offshore wind farm projects, the sheer size of the proposal is causing controversy, quite literally from start to finish.
Concerns have been raised on the affordability of the scheme, and the cost to the landscape and effectiveness of the development. Should this proceed, how much will a ticket be, how affordable will it be to the general public and will it really cut journey times down by so much it’s worth having HS2 at all.
Alternative proposals could include taking heavy goods vehicles off the road to save on cost of fuel and the environment, but cynics suggest the oil companies would pay to keep the HGV’s ON the road!
So how will this become a win win situation for all those involved? HS2 does appear to be raising more questions and not just from objectors.
A High Speed Rail Preparation Act has received Royal Assent and been passed and has now been dubbed the 'Blank Cheque Bill' by Stop HS2 Campaign, saying it gives the Government more than ample opportunity to spend as much as they can leading up to the Bill being passed. They also indicate that the inevitability of the scheme’s go ahead is secured, as they are about to put out tenders worth up to £7bn for a scheme that is not expected to gain Parliamentary approval until the end of 2016.
Speculation remains as to why £7bn of work will be tendered prior to gaining Royal Assent, but perhaps it is a formal requirement within this potential Act of Parliament to have a certain amount of contracts in place prior to Royal Assent being given.
But HS2 Ltd are working hard with the design of this proposal, ensuring it will work for the people who will use it, for the cities it will serve and for the future. It’s not a temporary fix, it’s a permanent solution that must work and work well and perhaps this is another reason the pre-qualification process has commenced for certain element of this scheme, it would ensure the earliest possible delivery of this project.
They envisage works to commence during 2017, embarking on one of the largest infrastructure projects Great Britain has ever seen. It’s truly exciting times for the industry and the potential it can deliver in terms of employment alone are quite staggering.
The Victorians built railway stations as landmarks, and while HS2 may not be pretty, it’s a significant modern landmark.
There will be 350 miles of new track, new tunnels, bridges and viaducts, great new railway stations along with 'state of the art' high speed trains.
So is HS2 an inspiration or just a blot on the landscape or just a waste money as opposed to an investment in our future?
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