#TrendingNews Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Lifestyle News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology World News
Can Network North Replace HS2?

HS2 is a high-speed rail line being built between Birmingham and London.


Originally the line also planned to connect Manchester and Leeds, altogether completed by 2033, but Rishi Sunak announced in 2021 that the Leeds line will be scrapped, and announced in June of 2023 that the Manchester line will be scrapped.


This means that the £36 billion funding for the scrapped lines will be redirected into a new Network North plan, presented in early October 2023.


Here we will look at whether the fully executed HS2 plan would have been more beneficial to the UK, or if the upcoming London-Birmingham HS2 combined with the Network North plan will be more prosperous.


The value for money of HS2 has become the centre of debate for this rail line, which is funded by taxpayer’s money. The line has become increasingly overdue, and the budget for construction has increased by billions, raising furious concerns. This led to the end of the majority of initial HS2 plans.


Over four years, YouGov has conducted public opinion surveys on HS2, inquiring: ’Do you support or oppose plans to build a new High Speed rail line linking London, Birmingham and Manchester?’


YouGov incorporated thousands of responses, finding that ‘strong support’ and ‘tend to support’ increased from 29% in 2019 to 33% in 2023. The responses ‘Strongly oppose’ and ‘Tend to oppose’ fell from 33% in 2019 to 31% in 2023. Most people took a neutral stance, marking ‘Neither support nor oppose’ and ‘Don't know’, at 38% in 2019 to 36% in 2023. YouGov’s findings were highly neutral, which suggests the UK remains undecided over the value for money of HS2.





With the demand for efficient transportation and sustainable engineering of HS2, would the cost of this project have been worth it?


With the demand for sustainable transitions, the UK government aim to reach net zero by 2050.


HS2 planned to deliver on this goal by cutting carbon emissions and investing in nature recovery along the planned routes. 2023 marks the sixth year of the HS2 environment programme. This has created more than 33 square kilometres of new wildlife habitats along the HS2 route, the equivalent of 23 new Hyde Parks lining the spine of the country.  

The UK’s transport systems are slow, disconnected, and overcrowded. HS2 planned to travel at speeds of 250 miles per hour, halving the journey time between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. HS2 would have connected these major destinations, creating an efficient work-life in the UK. To fight overcrowding, the project would have tripled the available room for each route.



Network North


While these original plans for HS2 appear as the ideal solution to poor transport in the UK, Network North targets foundational issues, which may prove to be the first necessary steps towards HS2.


Several investigations find the lack of affordable and accessible transport is a major driving force of regional inequality in “literally all the world’s economies” (2011: 6). The proposed improvements of Network North's public transport infrastructure are more thorough than HS2.


Network North invests in root problems including road infrastructure, rail lines, and bus services. It will cover every region of the country, particularly the weakest transport region – the North.


Statistics under Network North to cut journey times, and increase capacity and frequency of transport, include:

-       The £2 bus fare will be extended until the end of 2024.

-       Access for disabled people will be created in up to 100 train stations.

-       £12 billion will be invested to better connect Manchester to Liverpool.

-       Funding for the Midlands Rail Hub (a rail improvement scheme) has increased to £1.75 billion. The scheme will add more than 14 million more seats on the rail network each year and provide faster, more frequent or new rail links for over 30 locations including: Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Nuneaton, Worcester, Hereford, Cardiff, Bristol, Cheltenham, and Leicester. It will also bring 1.6 million more people to within an hour of the region’s biggest towns and cities by public transport.

-       A record investment of £8.3 billion will fix the scourge of potholes across the country.

-       A £3 billion plan will connect major cities in the North.

-       Over £700 million will fund a wave of Bus Service Improvement Plans in the North.


These are only a few of the plans under the transformative promise of Network North. The £36 billion funding fixes root problems of transport in the UK, an attempt to bridge the gap between the isolated, left-behind regions (such as the North) and the prosperous ‘Golden Triangle’ regions (Oxford, Cambridge, and London).


HS2 is a sustainable, grand project that meets the growing demands of transport in the UK. However, Network North is the first necessary step towards such a scheme. For an egalitarian Levelling Up of the country, all regions demand the thorough infrastructure fixtures of Network North.


In addition, the original, grand plans of HS2 may still be revived. Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said, “The PM said [...] that the Manchester leg of HS2 was cancelled but, delusion or not, I believe through this work a high-speed link between Birmingham and Manchester can be revived [...] I am convinced we can find a way to get back on track.”




Edited by: Anwen Venn

Share This Post On


Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in