The United Kingdom has given the green light to the first phase of its proposed High Speed Two train line. In response to environmental concerns, the route for HS2 will now include extra tunneling in the first 90 miles, so not to disrupt the natural beauty of the English countryside. The first phase will connect London to Birmingham and could be functional by 2026.
The new high speed rail line would power trains that run 225 miles per hour, making the far corners of the small country more accessible. The first phase, which will connect Birmingham and London, will allow passengers to make the trip in just 45 minutes, as opposed to the current 84 minute commute.
According to U.K. Transport Secretary Justine Greening, the creation of HS2 will greatly reduce Great Britain’s carbon footprint. With faster travel times, citizens will take HS2 over airplanes and individual car rides. When complete, the high speed line will connect Leeds, Manchester, London, Birmingham, and a port to Europe that uses the Channel Tunnel. With transfers, the trip from London to Edinburgh will be just 3 and a half hours, as opposed to the nearly 7 hour journey on trains today.
Developments for HS2 also have the environment in mind, and great revisions have been made in regards to preserving the natural beauty of the environment in which it bisects, as well as moving the route in order to reduce the number of homes at risk for noise and other disruptions.
Although most support the government’s attempt to invest in a green transportation system, many find the project to not be green enough. A group called Campaign for Better Transport, lead by Stephen Joseph, claims that HS2 has many kinks to work out, including incorporating lower carbon emissions.
The 140 mile stretch of the first phase has been green lighted for construction, with the second phase projected at 2014.