High Speed 2 (HS2), the controversial high-speed rail link designed to facilitate fast travel between the northern and midlands cities and London, is due to be implemented in two phases between 2026 and 2032. Seen from space, HS2 will look like a badly drawn Y or crooked wineglass, with a stem connecting London Euston and Birmingham, and then two northern branches, one leading to Manchester and Liverpool, and the other going to Leeds through Sheffield.
The London to West Midlands route, which cuts through large areas of Warwickshire, is set for Phase One. HS2 is a huge undertaking, as it completely bypasses the existing rail infrastructure and involves the construction of a high-speed hub at Crewe, a new ‘Bickenhill’ interchange at Solihull and huge expansions to Curzon Street station in Birmingham City Centre.
When complete, the journey time between Crewe and London will be just over an hour, less than 50% of the current time. Commuter traffic out of Euston station in London is estimated to increase from 11,300 to nearly 35,000 passengers daily, with 19,800 of these commuters travelling on high-speed trains.
When Will Work Begin?
Some work on HS2 Phase One has already started, mainly preparatory clearance work. Delays to the project are expected, with an estimated budget overrun of up to £20 billion. Nevertheless, the first phase is set to get underway in earnest over 2018 to 19, the line being scheduled to open for business eight years later, by December 2026.
For good reason, the government and HS2 Ltd have been reluctant to release an official work schedule, but construction will take place in the following stages:
1) Site clearance – Including demolition of buildings, clearing trees and establishing construction compounds ready for the next stage.
2) Earthworks – Railway cuttings, embankments and tunnels will be built.
3) Civil engineering – Supporting railway structures to be built, including bridges, railway stations, walls and viaducts.
4) Railway construction – The track bed and tracks will be the last items to be installed, supported by railway signals, power supply, access areas and other supporting infrastructure.
HS2 has not been universally popular in Warwickshire (to say the least) because of the impact on forested areas, its proximity to rural communities and a number of compulsory purchase orders and housing demolitions. Property prices in the immediate vicinity of the railway have been negatively affected. However, the ultimate economic impact on the area will be very positive, with an influx of new businesses and commuters into the area. Coupled with Coventry’s designation as UK City of Culture 2021, we are expecting to see a large boost to local infrastructure, and great opportunities for local construction companies.
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