The Pro's and Con's of HS2
A look at the pro's and con's of HS2
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HS2 is supporting the government plans to create a Northern powerhouse. The Northern powerhouse is a plan set by the government to devolve some powers like controlling tax rates - so big cities like Manchester can set the rate, collect the tax revenue and spend the tax revenue.
HS2 will help them do this, as with stronger transport links it makes the area more attractive to tourists and prospective house buyers. Tourists will spend money in the shops, cafes and restaurants and some of this extra revenue will go to the local authority in business taxes.
There will be more demand of housing with good transport links and this will be a positive multiplier effect as it will provide jobs for builders an other trades people, which will lower the unemployment rate and may slightly lower the job-seekers allowance rates.
When the new homeowners move in they will pay the local authority taxes and other monies. Higher revenue in taxes will mean that there is more money to spend on other public services like the NHS, education and transport. Confidence in the local area will increase amongst businesses and investors in the North and across the country due to the government showing that they are willing to spend £42 billion on transport infrastructure.
The HS2 line will improve commuter’s quality of life as the trains will be faster, newer and possibly cheaper - this will hopefully attract more road users to swap their cars for the train, which could make the roads less congested and may help reduce the £15 billion road improvement budget, which could be spent on other services.
Less congestion on the roads will mean that we may meet the EU’s pollution target, and it will mean that we can keep the hundreds of millions of pounds instead of paying to the EU in fines. Less pollution in the air will increase people’s quality of life from improved environmental standards. Travelling on trains is also safer than travelling on the road - Three people were fatally injured by trains in 5 years, compared with the average 1500 fatalities on Britain’s roads every year.
However, if HS2 went ahead it would mean a large sum of capital being spent on one specific project, that will benefit a relatively small number of people, this will put pressure on other privatised services like education and the NHS, as £42 billion can’t be spent on theses services.
It isn't just the initial capital either - in the future, the up keep of the track, stations, and trains will soon become expensive to maintain, meaning that it will become just like the already struggling railways.
The £42 billion initial investment may only be a small proportion of the actual cost, with the budget already having risen from £32.7 billion, this leaves the public with uncertainty that they won’t actually know what the final cost is until it is built. The extra costs will effect everyone in their daily lives, as in the meantime whilst the track is being laid commuters will still need to use the most popular way of travelling to work - by car.
Another issue is the land where the 330 mile track will be built. Some of track will go through small English villages, this means that some houses will need to be demolished, effectively tearing the village in two. Also, in these areas where there is track but no station - house prices will depreciate in value, as the villages will become less attractive due to noise and pollution.
It will raise issues with houses and house prices as well - if the demand in houses rises in areas that already have limited houses available, due to the government not meeting their house building target, it will mean that houses already there will increase due to supply not meeting demand, this may price locals out of market.
In conclusion, HS2 may provide the economic growth in the North that the government want to achieve, and it may significantly improve the productivity of the country, with demand growing for engineering and technology.
There are both advantages and disadvantages in housing with towns and cities with the stations befitting, but other small villages and towns on the route will suffer as a result.
Building HS2 will mean a vast amount of capital spent on one specific project impacting on other services. George Osbourne has recently said that he plans to go through with HS2 despite all the set backs and uncertainty surrounding it.