High Speed 2 is part of the Government’s effort to increase rail capacity between the North and South of England and to deliver greater economic growth in the North of England.
Phase one, from London to the West Midlands, is expected to begin construction in 2017 (presuming Royal Assent is received in December 2016) and open in 2026 with further extensions to Crewe expected to open in 2027 and Manchester and Leeds connections in 2033.
Greater capacity to meet future passenger demand and improved connectivity are supposed to enable economic growth. There are however many reasons to be sceptical about the building of a high speed rail line to achieve this aim.
There has been significant opposition to the project and this briefing paper covers the main arguments that have been put forward.