Last week’s poll: the return of HS2

With contracts worth £6.6bn in place for tunnels and viaducts, phase one of HS2 – the UK’s second high-speed rail project – is on track with the promise of 16,000 jobs and 7,000 contract opportunities.

But what effect will the project, with an estimated cost of £55.7bn, have on the UK economy? The five options presented in last week’s poll offered two positive and two negative choices, and the Department for Transport might be a little surprised at the outcome given the composition of The Engineer’s readership.

Let’s start with the positives, namely the options suggesting HS2 will boost industry and commerce in the North, and that it will help certain parts of the supply chain. The 43 per cent who chose these options can be broken down to 25 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, leaving us with the remaining 57 per cent to ponder. Of these, 34 per cent thought that HS2 would be a drag on the economy, and 18 per cent agreed that the high-speed line would have no appreciable effect. Five per cent went for the None of Above option.

A total of 592 people took part in the poll and plenty more took time to tell The Engineer what they thought via Comments.

Nick Cole said: “A grand idea, but what benefit to the engineering and service companies in the north, aside from the construction phase. All it will achieve is to facilitate better access to London and the South East. Now if it were to handle freight or that could be improved on existing lines then there may be some benefit. But most of the engineering and production/manufacturing facilities have long gone elsewhere in the world. So all it will ultimately do is marginally speed up the movement of people.”

Mark added: “There will be some benefit to industry during the construction phase, but little after. The project will overrun in terms of cost and time and the second phase will never be built – simply because it will be out of political fashion by then.”

What do you think? Let us know via Comments below.