Secretary for Transport Justine Greening will confirm plans for the UK’s first high speed rail link, HS2, today.
The new train line will travel across the middle of England, linking London and Birmingham and reducing travel times by an hour.
The link, which will reportedly cost £32 billion, has been met with controversy and widely criticised due to the cost of the build, the effect that the line will have on the countryside and fears over rail safety.
Protestors have been campaigning against the plans for the railway since they were first announced, particularly in the Tory stronghold of Middle England which the line will travel through.
Protestors that live in or near the affected areas are convinced that the new link will destroy the local environment, cutting through green belt land, affecting the local wildlife population and causing noise pollution.
Other protestors, including the chair of the Taxpayers Alliance, are up in arms about how much the scheme will cost the British tax payer.
According to some figures building the railway will cost each British family around £1000, but most of the people who are paying this will not be able to use the line because tickets for the train will be too costly for the average person to afford.
However, 100 of the top business people in the UK have spoken out in support of the HS2, claiming that it is essential if the British economy is to move forward and rival other leading economies across the globe.
In addition, Network Rail recently released a report which stated that transport links between Birmingham and London were already being pushed to the limits in terms of passenger occupation and that without the current rail network would not be able to accommodate the growing demand for transport to the capital within the next few years.
Although it is believed the scheme will be given the go ahead plans will not be finalised until 2014 when building will begin. The line will then take a further eight years to complete with two years set aside for testing, meaning that the line will not be ready to use by the general public until at least 2024.
There is a second phase of the scheme planned which will link London with the North, making journey times to the capital much shorter, but these plans have not yet been given the all clear. The second phase of the scheme will reduce journey times between London and the North by up to an hour and will reportedly cost several million pounds to complete.
The UK are following in the footsteps of countries like Japan who have installed high speed rail links. However, Japan’s link made headlines last year when a high speed train was struck by lightning. 39 people were killed in the accident and several were injured, causing the safety of high speed rail links to be called into question.
Although members of parliament have committed to the first phase of the scheme, as yet no ministers have committed to the second phase amid fears that the link between London and the north will be too expensive to build.
For more information about rail safety visit www.arbilrail.co.uk
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